Commercializing the Asian Drama- Literally!

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People don't want ads anymore. They want something to hook them and keep them hooked. And this one Japanese candy company did exactly that.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, most of us by now are at least familiar with the existence of Asian dramas. If you were to Google J,C, or K-dramas you’d see any number of lists showcasing recommended Japanese, Chinese or Korean dramas respectively often subtitled by fans speaking various languages across the globe. They are, essentially, the latest and greatest in what we know in the States as the soap opera, but can they be the next big tool for branding?

Last year Japanese candy company UHA Mikakuto decided to market a couple of their gummy products - both the long and short versions of their popular Sakeru Gummy - by creating a series of commercials that strung together much like episodes of TV drama. The series, titled “Long Long Man,” showcases your typical young couple sharing their joy of the regular Sakeru gummy flavors, until their lives are suddenly turned upside down by the appearance of Long Long Man.

Don’t worry, it’s not what you think. Of course any adult is going to understand the innuendo behind the many long man jokes as he’s peeling apart his extra long gummy candy, but the commercials are innocent enough for a kid to just assume that candy is all that’s happening here, which makes the series funny and enjoyable for any age. For the drama lovers, there’s plenty of twists throughout the series that include pretty much every possible soap opera trope imaginable - jealousy, cheating, mortal illness, reconciliations, wedding fiascos, and something extra in the last episode that I won’t spoil here. You’ll have to watch it to find out how the series ends on your own.

Which is, quite frankly, why this method of branding is so insanely genius. In a time when less and less people are watching television, and choosing to block or skip through ads during their online viewing experiences, to create a series of commercials that people are actually seeking out to view is really where any good marketing team should be heading. This series of ads went viral around the world well before the drama reached its unexpected conclusion, with translators of all different languages adding their own subs so their peers could watch and enjoy. The company created the ads and then all they had to do was sit back and let the fans do all the promoting for them. And it worked. Sales of Sakeru Gummies, both short and long, increased with buyers seeking them out in candy stores, subscription boxes, and top online retailers such as Amazon.

The long and short of it? We already knew from brands such as Old Spice and Progressive that having a lovable mascot going on comical adventures is memorable, but an extended serialization of interconnected adventures raises the bar (and the profits) just that one step further. People don’t want commercials anymore, they want something to hook them and keep them hooked, and UHA Mikakuto did exactly that. The mic has been dropped and the bar has been raised, and other brands better take note so they aren’t left in the forgotten ad dust.

Check out UHA Mikakuto's drama ads in full posted below!