Product / ServiceMISO SOUP
CategoryB01. Fast Moving Consumer Goods
EntrantDENTSU Tokyo, JAPAN
Entrant Company DENTSU Tokyo, JAPAN

The Campaign

The market for miso, a traditional form of Japanese food, had been shrinking each year. Marukome Co., Ltd., a 160 year old company and number one in the miso industry, realized that consumption was decreasing, especially among young people, and began to fear for its future. Miso is seen as a sort of “antiquated culture,” and it was even driving the company mad when recruitment efforts weren’t working–university graduates simply weren’t applying to join. That’s why it decided to carry out a rebranding campaign for miso soup and Marukome, targeted at young people. It was based on a symbol of youth culture: Rock. A new product was released with big changes to the miso soup ingredients as well as a perk allowing purchasers to download original rock music – the world’s first miso soup coming bundled with rock music. Young people were also attracted by the transformation of the brand mascot into an edgy character. This campaign got young people talking on social networking, increasing engagement with the company and dramatically increasing the number of university graduates applying this year. In addition, four large convenience store chains – which focus their activities on youth consumption – agreed to sell Marukome's products.

The Brief

The campaign hoped to encourage young people to regard miso soup as much a part of their lives and lifestyle as the music they listen to. By associating Marukome with rock, and making the brand “cool”, the firm hoped that the younger generation would embrace the company’s product and boost sales to this age group, plus generate comment and exposure on mainstream, online and social media. A higher profile and a younger, more dynamic image should also overcome the difficulties Marukome’s recruiters had faced attracting a new generation of employees.


- The miso soup ‘bathed’ in the rock music initially sold 230% faster than any limited edition product previously sold, selling out on Japan’s premier e-commerce site Rakuten. - Nationwide Japanese convenience store chains are firmly entrenched in young people’s lives. Of these chains, FamilyMart, Daily Yamazaki and Y Shop carried our product. - Approx. 22.8 million yen ($190,000) of sales reached – more than six times our original goal. - Exposure in 460+ forms of media (699,427,982 impressions). SNS statistics: 75,886 posts, 60,399,134 followers. Official Marukome SNS accounts: approx. 144% more fans registered! Recruitment page users also increased by 191% year on year. - Marukome Project Manager Kitazawa was interviewed by the Huffington Post. “Never have things been so exciting in Marukome’s 160 year history. We’ve created collaborations with young people through miso soup, and we now have a form of communication you couldn’t create in a supermarket.”


With a bit of courage, Marukome's brand mascot was temporarily transformed into a rock star. Marukome’s mascot represents apprentice monks of Japan’s temples - in ancient times one of the monks’ tasks during their training was to grind the soybeans into the paste used in making miso soup. It was among this background that the drastic change of the mascot had its impact. A food truck was taken to a rock festival full of young people, and a pop-up store was also opened in Harajuku, Japan’s fashion capital and a magnet for young people. The company also engaged with the media by holding press previews. Furthermore, an innovative promotion video showing the miso ‘listening’ to the rock music at Marukome's factory was produced and uploaded to YouTube.

The Situation

Statistics from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications show that while per capita miso consumption was 3,928 grams/year in 1971, over the next 40 years it would fall 48% to 2,016 grams in 2011. The fall was especially pronounced among young people, many thinking of miso soup as something “old and stale that doesn’t change”. It also put a serious dent in Marukome’s recruitment efforts. This is why the company needed to drastically redesign its marketing approach, moving away from the loyal senior customers that had supported consumption until now.

The Strategy

The campaign was targeted at young people between 10 - 29 years of age. Marukome first presented its intentions by making drastic, shocking changes to its brand mascot, which hadn't changed since its inception in the mid-1950s. Drastic changes were also made to the miso soup production process, as the company took on the challenge of creating a new taste by stimulating the bacteria inside the miso with live rock music at the factory. A stand was also set up at a rock festival, to gather the opinions of ‘rock kids’ and reflect them in product development. The miso soup ingredients were also changed and a download card for rock music was included in the product packaging. Incidentally, the number 69 in Japanese can be pronounced as “rock”. With a 69 calorie product as the ‘hook’, Marukome worked on creating products that enjoyed an affinity with the music young people like.


Name Company Position
Yusuke Sato DENTSU INC. Creative Director / Copywriter
Nao Hirano DENTSU INC. Creative Director / Art Director
Yohei Nemoto Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR Planner
Yusuke Matsuo Dentsu Public Relations Inc. Promotion Planner
Toyoichiro Tada Dentsu Music and Entertainment Senior Producer
Aki Daisho DENTSU INC. Creative Producer
Masataka Kawajiri DENTSU INC. Account Executive
Masahiko Tsumura DENTSU INC. Account Executive
Mari Mochizuki TOHOKUSHINSHA FILM CORPORATION Production Manager
Sojiro Kamatani Qotori Film Inc. Director
Takuro Iwagami AIR NOTES Cameraman
Jun Sakai Magic Hand Lighting Director
Ayano Tachibana Freelance Stylist
Shinnosuke Komoda K'S-MAY Sound Engineer
Daisuke Miyako OMNIBUS JAPAN Compositter
Shogo Makita OMNIBUS JAPAN Mixer
Tatsuki Saito Freelance CG Designer