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Thursday, June 17, 1999
Regular publicity necessary for healthy marketing
To: Buena Vista Prunes, Inc. Attn: Mr. John Murray, vice president in charge of communications From: Takeshi Ebihara Tokyo Senden Services Re: Public relations progress and proposals
As we approach Sept. 1, the day when Buena Vista Prunes and Prune Juice go on sale in grocery stores throughout Japan, we are stepping up our publicity activities to increase awareness among Japanese people (especially young people) of the good taste and health benefits of prunes in general and of Buena Vista Prunes in particular. As we mentioned during our meeting at your head office in Fresno on April 29, our greatest obstacle is Japanese consumers' knowledge of prunes, which is limited to a single local product, Miki Prune.
Our research has shown that most Japanese think of prunes as "big raisins," but rather than build on that advantage, we have decided to "gambatte iru" (or, as you Americans like to say, "put our noses to the rhinestones") and try to create awareness "from the ground up." Below, we present an outline of our activities so far.
Because our aim is not merely to sell prunes but to create an "army of prune fans," we are augmenting our approach activities toward health-related magazines and publications for senior citizens by targeting larger circulation magazines that cater to young people, especially young women who are concerned about "regularity." So far, our efforts have been "an uphill battle," since most editors know less about prunes than the average Japanese young person.
Armed with exciting press releases and the product itself, our frontline troops stormed the ramparts of these magazines, demanding to talk to editors in charge of special features or product introduction columns. In the course of their conversations with the editors, our staff gained intelligence about upcoming features. Afterwards, they regrouped and carried out follow-up communications with those publications that are planning features about dieting, health foods or the California lifestyle. We have included some quotes from the follow-up calls.
* Ms. Ando of the editorial department of a young women's fashion's magazine: "I like the drawing of the little farmer on the label. He's very cute. After our meeting, I went home and ate the entire bag you gave me and immediately vomited it all up without any special effort, so I think we can cover it as a dieting aid in a feature we have planned for the August issue titled 'Lose Weight Right Now.' "
* Mr. Suzuki of the editorial department of a information magazine about new and trendy merchandise: "We don't usually cover food products, but health foods are fashionable so there is a possibility. The main problem is that you have only one product. Our readers like collections. Think Swatch! Think Zippo! What about a line of prunes in different flavors?"
* Mr. Beppu, editorial department of a lifestyle magazine for teenage boys: "We are planning a diet feature entitled 'Be Skinny Right Now,' but I don't think our readers are interested in prunes, at least not as food. We could, however, cover them as an autoerotic tool in our upcoming summer masturbation feature."
CM PR activities
As we said at the Fresno meeting, our plan is to publicize the TV commercials for Buena Vista Prunes and Prune Juice when they hit the airwaves this fall. The purpose is to gain coverage in food industry publications and advertising columns. However, until Daido Advertising, the company handling your account, comes up with a definite campaign, we are like "horses left standing at the altar."
Apparently, Daido still has not decided whether to use Ryoko Hirosue or Norika Fujiwara for the "idol" in the campaign. They are still struggling over what they want to convey: a "fresh and cute" image (Hirosue) or a "fresh and glamorous" image (Fujiwara). Our own research, however, has revealed that neither young star would be effective, since both already make numerous commercials for other companies and, according to a telephone survey we conducted, most respondents couldn't remember the names of any of the products they advertised, only that Ms. Hirosue is cute and Ms. Fujiwara is glamorous (which, in Japan, simply means that she has "big hooties," as you Americans say).
Although you indicated opposition to the idea when I brought it up in Fresno, we still believe that former sumo star Konishiki would be a better choice. We understand that Mr. Konishiki's "big profile" may go against the healthy image you want to project, but, again, TV commercials in Japan are about implicit images, not explicit ones. Besides being from Hawaii, and thus reinforcing the American connection to the product, Mr. Konishiki also combines the salient traits of both Ms. Hirosue and Ms. Fujiwara in that he is cute and has big hooties.
As a means of attracting attention to the health benefits of prunes and distinguishing Buena Vista from Miki, we propose carrying out a questionnaire survey among the general public. The survey solicitations would be placed in newspaper publicity spaces and in special kensho (gift or premium) magazines. Readers would send postcard responses to Buena Vista c/o our office, and from among the responses we will select a hundred who will each receive one of three prizes: a case of prune juice; an autographed photo of dieting and cosmetics guru Sonoko Suzuki; or a T-shirt with the catch-phrases "Wrinkle Power" printed on one side and "Prunes make you Go-Go-Go!" on the other. This activity has "dual effectiveness" in that the solicitation itself publicizes the product and then, afterward, the results of the survey are distributed to newspapers, magazines and wire services, thus providing secondary publicity. Below are some of the survey topics we are considering:
How do you keep regular? (This will be specifically targeted at women's magazines.) Which Japanese celebrity best fits your image of a prune? When and where was the most satisfying bowel movement you've ever had? What is your favorite dried agricultural product imported from California other than raisins? We will "regularly" send you reports on the progress of the above-mentioned activities. Thank you again for your support and patronage.