|Title||FUR OUT! CANINE IDOLS WOO(F) TOURISTS TO AKITA|
|Brand||AKITA INU TOURISM|
|Product / Service||ATTRACTING TOURISTS TO NORTHEN AKITA|
|Category||A07. Public Sector|
|Entrant||DENTSU PUBLIC RELATIONS Tokyo, JAPAN|
|Idea Creation||DENTSU INC. Tokyo, JAPAN|
|Media Placement||PILOT GROUP Taipei, CHINESE TAIPEI|
|PR||DENTSU PUBLIC RELATIONS Tokyo, JAPAN|
|PR 2||PILOT GROUP Taipei, CHINESE TAIPEI|
|Production||TAIYO KIKAKU Tokyo, JAPAN|
|Naoya KUDO||DENTSU INC.||Creative Director|
|Natsumi KANI||DENTSU INC.||Copywriter|
|Momoka FUKUYADO||DENTSU INC.||Copywriter|
|Yoshiyuki IMOTO||DENTSU INC.||Art Director|
|Takahiro ITO||DENTSU INC.||Account Director|
|Tempei SHIKAMA||DENTSU INC.||Strategic Planning Director|
|Julia CHU||DENTSU INC.||Strategic Planner|
|Ko ECHIZEN||DENTSU INC.||Agency Producer|
|Yasue NAKAJIMA||DENTSU INC.||Agency Producer|
|Yohei NEMOTO||Dentsu Public Relations Inc.||PR Director|
|Aya SHOJI||Dentsu Public Relations Inc.||PR Planner|
|Mariko KITADA||Dentsu Public Relations Inc.||PR Planner|
|Kento INABA||Dentsu Public Relations Inc.||Media Relations (Print & Online)|
|Sakura TORII||Dentsu Public Relations Inc.||Media Relations (TV)|
|Shuhei YAMABE||Taiyo Kikaku Co. Ltd||Director|
|Shinya MATSUO||Taiyo Kikaku Co. Ltd||Cinematographer|
|Ryota IZUMIYA||Taiyo Kikaku Co. Ltd||Film Producer|
|Toshiaki FUJISHIMA||Taiyo Kikaku Co. Ltd||Assistant Producer|
|Ryuichi USHIODA||Taiyo Kikaku Co. Ltd||Production Manager|
|Haruna NAGAMATSU||Taiyo Kikaku Co. Ltd||Production Manager|
|Yung-Ming CHEN||Pilot Public Relations International Co., Ltd.||Business Development Consultant|
|Shu-Yann LIAW||Pilot Public Relations International Co., Ltd.||General Manager|
|Hsin-Yen HO||Pilot Public Relations International Co., Ltd.||Assistant Account Director|
|Chih-Shun SHIH||Pilot Public Relations International Co., Ltd.||Senior Account Manager|
|Tzu-Chien WANG||Pilot Public Relations International Co., Ltd.||Account Supervisor|
Akita dogs and Japanese idol-pop girl groups are popular in Taiwan, so combining these themes seemed a promising way to boost Akita Prefecture’s profile among Taiwanese tourists, with the aim of attracting more visitors to boost the regional economy. And, as trends from Japan often achieve subsequent popularity in Taiwan, the campaign set out to create a video that would resonate with Japanese audiences to generate domestic hype. This was the concept behind Mofu Mofu Dogs (“Fluffy Dogs,” a singing, dancing idol group with the heads of Akita dogs), and Waiting4U, a catchy song blending electro pop with vocals composed from sampled dog barks. The aim was to overcome language barriers with a song that anyone could enjoy. The accompanying online music video showed Mofu Mofu Dogs singing and dancing around leading attractions in northern Akita Prefecture, introducing the local sights, cuisine, and culture.
To maximize coverage in Japan, the campaign was launched alongside a Japanese press release at 11:01 AM on November 1 (11.01), a date known domestically as Inu no hi (dog day), due to the phonetic similarity between the number “one” and the Japanese onomatopoeia for a dog’s bark (“wan”). A trilingual (Japanese, traditional Chinese, and English) website (http://letsmofumofuakita.com/en/) was also launched, describing tourist routes and historic Northern Akita attractions featured in the campaign video. Once the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyobqOPGPCI) hit one million views, a press release was issued in Taiwan, introducing Mofu Mofu Dogs as an Akita dog idol group currently trending in Japan. As Taiwanese travelers often rely on bloggers rather than guide books for their travel information, a blogger tour was organized, with Taiwanese travel influencers visiting locations that appear in the music video, and blogging about their experiences to convey Akita’s appeal to followers back home.
The music video achieved over one million views in just two weeks. The campaign also generated 298 earned media stories as of December 2016: 198 in Japan, 67 in Taiwan, 12 in English-speaking nations (including the USA and Australia), and 21 in other countries, including Indonesia, Chile, Italy and France. 2016 saw Akita welcome 8,203 overnight visitors from overseas, surpassing Akita Inu Tourism’s initial target of 6,500. Three key hotels in Northern Akita welcomed a total of 513 guests from Taiwan, up from 309 the previous year, and these increases continued into 2017. Taiwanese travelers visiting key local attractions including the Korakukan Theater (shown in the video) and Kosaka Mine Office, jumped from a few dozen in 2015 to 1,400 in 2016. Furthermore, for the first time in its history, the Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway received over 10,000 foreign passengers, with international group reservations up 300% YOY to 399, including 397 from Taiwan, and 839 individual Taiwanese passengers in December 2016 alone (up 360% YOY). The video’s popularity also became a factor in the decision by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to collaborate with Akita Inu Tourism on arranging a promotional tour of Northern Akita for representatives of Tokyo-based foreign embassies. The one-night trip welcomed 23 participants from 17 countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Germany, drawing an overwhelmingly positive response for the local scenery, and tourist attractions including the Korakukan Theater and the opportunity to interact with Akita dogs.
As the world’s population moves increasingly from rural towards urban living, Japan’s provincial communities face serious socioeconomic issues that threaten their very existence. This campaign represents a fresh, unique approach for the revitalization of rural economies by tapping into overseas markets for alternative revenue streams. Identifying Taiwanese tourists as a key market, the team’s research into essential aspects of Japan’s Northern Akita region, and the relevant preferences and interests of the target group, looked beyond conventional tourist attractions. The resulting campaign strategically combined the popularity that Akita dogs and Japanese idol groups enjoy among the Taiwanese public.
Official statistics helped to identify Taiwanese visitors as a key potential market for this campaign. In 2015, The Japan Tourism Agency’s (JTA) Tohoku District Transport Bureau (responsible for the northern prefectures of Miyagi, Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Yamagata and Fukushima) found that Taiwan was the leading source of visitors to Tohoku, with some 176,480 arrivals to the region. Moreover, further JTA research showed that 80% of Taiwanese tourists in Japan had visited at least once before. Not only do repeat visitors tend to be more interested in journeying to places that are off the beaten track, Taiwanese nationals often hold a positive view of Japan and actively follow Japanese popular culture. Idol girl groups are especially popular, even gaining frequent front-page coverage in the Taiwanese media. The decision was taken to create a campaign video that combined such themes with essential elements of Akita Prefecture.