Product / ServiceBANANA
CategoryC07. Co-Creation & User Generated Content
EntrantDENTSU Y&R Tokyo, JAPAN
Idea Creation DENTSU Y&R Tokyo, JAPAN
Idea Creation 2 DOLE JAPAN Tokyo, JAPAN
Media Placement DENTSU Y&R Tokyo, JAPAN
Production DENTSU Y&R Tokyo, JAPAN
Production 2 KAYAC Kanagawa, JAPAN
Production 3 QON INC. Tokyo, JAPAN


Name Company Position
Toshiki Takahashi Dentsu Young & Rubicam Inc. Executive Creative Director
Kazuya Hirai Dentsu Young & Rubicam Inc. Communication Planner
Satoru Shimizu Freelance Communication Planner
Satoru Fujii Dentsu Young & Rubicam Inc. Creative Director
Tetsuya Nishikawa Dentsu Young & Rubicam Inc. Accont Division Director
Yuhiko Muto Dentsu Young & Rubicam Inc. Account Director
Mitsuru Honma Dentsu Young & Rubicam Inc. Account Supervisor
Ryohei Koda kayac inc Producer / Web Director
Gen Nakamori kayac inc Sound Creator
Yoshihiko Shimoda kayac inc Video Direction
Takafumi Kaneko kayac inc Art director / Designer
Yuma matsumori kayac inc Camera
Yoshiyuki Hinohara kayac inc Copywriter
Shin Fujisawa kayac inc Technical Director
Masahito Ishibashi Function Photographer
Atsushi Takashima QON Inc. SNS management
Takamichi Hasuma PRAP Japan, Inc. Senior Account Manager / Public Relations
Hiromi Suzuki PRAP Japan, Inc. Account Executive / Public Relations
Takafumi Izumi Freelance Movie director
Ryosuke Kawaguchi Freelance Director of photography
Koichi Sakamoto Albuquerque Film Film Producer
Taira Kono Albuquerque Film Film Production Manager
Kazutoshi Amano kazutoshi amano design, ltd. Product Designer
Emiri Mori kazutoshi amano design, ltd. Product Designer
Hiromi Ohtaki Dole Japan, Inc Senior Manager

The Campaign

Allowing banana, a common food, to evolve into something more personal and special. People today are engaged in speedy digital communication such as Social Media and e-mails most of the time, but we took notice of their hidden insight; they also have a wish to send a heartfelt message in an-old fashioned way, through hand-written letters or notes. This triggered our move to give banana a new value, and transform banana from something “to eat” into something “to communicate one’s feelings with”. This way, we attempted to incite consumers to feel empathy to Dole brand and to buy Dole banana. This is why we developed “BANAPEN”, Japan’s first pen dedicated to writing on bananas, and designed the “Banana Message” campaign, to allow people to exchange messages directly written on bananas with BANAPEN.


As the first step, articles were placed on news and curation sites, which became a hot topic and attracted TV coverage. NHK (public broadcaster) and all commercial TV stations in Japan reported the enthusiasm surrounding the BANAPEN and Banana Message. The TV coverage helped further spread the news on-line. Japan’s top YouTuber, HIKAKIN, tried BANAPEN and posted a video, also boosting on-line buzz. Prior to TOKYO MARATHON, we carried out Dole Banana/BANAPEN sampling in a popular running area near Imperial Palace in central Tokyo and organized a banana message trial event, where many runners wrote their wish, resolution and supporting messages for TOKYO MARATHON on bananas and exchanged them. On the day of TOKYO MARATHON Dole provided 52,000 bananas to 35,000 runners, and that was covered by various media, raising interest of many viewers. A new custom of using bananas to exchange messages with friends and family has been created.

Tier 1: The campaign attracted attention from wide-ranging media. Including 9 TV programs, 8 newspaper/magazines and 232 on-line media, total 248 media covered the campaign, achieving an advertising value equivalent to JPY 327 million (US$3.0 million) The topic spread to overseas media. BANAPEN and Banana Message was covered by 444 overseas on-line media. Japan’s top-ranking YouTuber “HIKAKIN” posted a video that was viewed 800,000 times. Tier 2: Banana Message attracted strong empathy and became an extremely hot topic, moving many consumers to buy Dole bananas. A new custom of using bananas to communicate feelings has been created. Images of Banana Message and BANAPEN were actively posted on Twitter and other Social Media, counting 11,000 tweets. Furthermore, many runners tried Banana Message at a running station while training for the international sports event TOKYO MARATHON 2017. On the Marathon day, many of the 35,000 participating runners were seen exchanging messages written on bananas. Tier 3: When sales of Dole banana and BANAPEN package started, the dedicated vending machine sold out every day for more than one month. It was so popular that the three-times-a-week restocking was increased to daily, and tickets were distributed at 7:00AM to secure the holder the right to buy the package on the day. Monthly sales from the vending machine shot up to 1020% year-on-year.

The Situation

We transformed banana – a simple commodity product for consumers – into something special and personal, through “Banana Message”. Dole developed a “BANAPEN”, Japan’s first special-purpose pen dedicated to writing on bananas, and with the pen, banana has evolved from a simple food to eat, to a communication device that can convey a heartfelt message. “Banana Message” is a unique innovation that reaches out to our deep-rooted instinct to write and communicate.

The Strategy

By introducing BANAPEN, we transform banana into a communication device, raise interest and change behaviour of target audience. Target audience: Targeting runners, their family and friends for TOKYO MARATHON, Japan’s biggest marathon event, we designed a communication method that helps them send supportive messages. This expanded beyond our original target and appealed to general public, many of them posting their elaborate Banana Message on Social Media. Target media: On-line media (video, Social Media, curation sites, news, influential bloggers, YouTubers), TV (news, information program) PR planning/Approach Using Banana vending machine located in the busy Shibuya district, Tokyo, we sold a package of Dole banana and BANAPEN in limited time/quantity, spreading the news of Japan’s first special-purpose banana message pen. Hundreds of people queued, and many discussed the rare and unique BANAPEN on Twitter and Facebook. Their enthusiasm was covered by TV and invited coverage by overseas media.


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