Sunday, February 11, 2007
There are some people who are absolutely crazy for Pocky (essentially an unsalted pretzel stick dipped in chocolate) but I'm not one of them. I think they're inoffensive but not especially appealing so I don't buy them regularly. Once in awhile, they will release a variety that I'll sample (like coconut) but it's quite rare.
While I was shopping at a local market today, I ran across Pocky with Nova conversation schools' ugly usagi (rabbit) mascot on the box. I'm not sure what compelled Nova to go with such a poor design but the Japanese supposedly went pretty crazy about it and collected items made in this thing's likeness. The company I used to work for was sold to an off-shoot of Nova two years before I stopped working there and our salespeople would get bugged by the clients they were trying to sell to for free Nova usagi collectibles. I also heard that on-line auctions offered stuffed usagi and whatnot which sold for an attractive amount of money.
Personally, I've always called this the "beak bunny" because the face looks like a chicken beak has been planted in the middle of a rabbit's face. Of course, the point is for the nose/mouth combo to look like a smiley face but it just looks weird. Nonetheless, I was intrigued enough to pick up this box of Pocky to see how Nova was linking to Pocky.
The two packets inside the box each have a drawing of the mascot and an English phrase with a Japanese translation. I guess the idea is to get people to study English on their snack packages. It's probably targeted toward kids for the most part. Though adults do enjoy Pocky, I think the notion that they'd study the packets is a bit far-fetched.
On the back of the box, another chocolate product made by Glico (the company that makes Pocky) is mentioned as part of the Nova campaign. GABA is a chocolate product which claims to help improve "mental balance". This chocolate includes Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (hence the name GABA) which is supposed to soothe the nervous system. I guess Nova hopes to reach the kids via Pocky and the adults through GABA.
One thing I wondered is how much Nova had to fork over for this advertising campaign and if it all seems pretty ill-timed on the heels of the bad publicity they are getting over a handful of their teachers being arrested for drug possession. I also wonder how well this sort of marketing works to draw people into language schools.