We recently drew attention to the use of virtual brand ambassadors, such as holographic singer Hatsune Miku, and the obvious advantages of utilising them as endorsement partners over increasingly fallible human beings. Yes, we’re looking at you Tiger Woods.
Once again emanating from Japan we can see another example of how art imitates life in the recent brand partnership between a J-pop group and a new food product.
AKB48 is a Japanese all female pop group, notable for being the world’s largest girl band, for which they currently hold a Guinness World Record. Comprised of some 58 full time members (split across four separate teams) – this troupe of singers makes the Polyphonic Spree look like a duet.
The group has teamed up with confectionery brand Glico on a new digital initiative, which invites fans of the Otaku group to take component parts of each group member (hair, eyebrows, nose, mouth, etc) to create their ideal member. These ‘perfected’ versions of their favourite stars can be shared via Twitter and Facebook and voted for online. In addition, the creations can be downloaded for use as avatars and desktop backgrounds.
However, what is really interesting in this particular campaign is the fact that fans of the group have suspected for some time that one of the members of AKB48 was in fact a digital creation already.
Eguchi Aimi has long being considered to possibly be a CGI creation, with the name of the new product ‘Aisu no Mi’ (equating to an abbreviation of her name) only fueling the suspicion. Not to mention the fact that taking features from the six most popular members actually ends up looking like Aimi.
It turns out that she was in fact created directly by the brand, which introduced her into the group before the launch of the digital campaign.
It’s a clever use of pre-emptive marketing by the brand, whether it ties into the product is another question entirely, but for this audience – so eager to connect and interact with their idols – that wouldn’t seem to matter. Fans we're quick to get involved with the campaign in an attempt to outdo Glico by creating their own version of the perfect AKB48 member.