Spring is the season of fresh beginnings in Japan. As the financial and school years draw to a close and the cherry blossoms begin to bloom at the end of March, farewell parties, graduation parties and, of course, hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties get underway. During this time a ton of food and booze gets consumed, making spring the perfect season to launch special campaigns to lure potential customers.
Our pick of this year’s campaigns is the “Pretz Party Box” campaign by Glico, the makers of Pretz (a popular savory stick-shaped snack). Those who enter the competition get the chance to win a special box that will be delivered to their party. There are five kinds of boxes available for five different kinds of party and each appears to contain human cargo ready to burst out and liven up your party. The hanami version, for instance, offers drummers in bear suits and cheerleaders shaking pom poms. (Those who like quiet contemplation beneath the blossoms need not apply: Applicants must submit a picture of themselves having fun at a party, and the wilder the party looks, the better the chance of winning.) The birthday box is packed with “human candles” and the “men’s only” party box contains cute actress Umika Kawashima. The website is worth a look for its animation alone.
Cherry blossoms are as certain to turn up on packaging in the spring as they are to bloom on trees. Confectionery makers, Lotte, for instance, began selling special sakura-themed sweets from March 6. They’re also running a tie-in campaign with Rurubu, JTB’s travel magazine, to encourage customers to travel to scenic cherry blossom spots. The back of each package has information from Rurubu editors on choice cherry blossom spots. Lotte is also running a competition to win branded picnic sets plus a copy of Rurubu for a destination of your choosing.
Picnic sets and crates of beer are the standard cherry blossom season prizes on offer from beer companies and this year is no exception, with Kirin offering all of the above for their Nodogoshi campaign and Suntory offering 1,000 12-packs to those who bookmark a webpage for a hanami spot on the associated Yahoo! Japan app.
Last year’s hanami was a rather gloomy affair as the country mourned the huge loss of life caused by the tsunami and experienced ongoing unease over the nuclear crisis. Many took their cue from the authorities who advised citizens to practice self-restraint and cancel rowdy festivities. The start of these spring campaigns signals a return to normality for this year’s hanami, which looks set to be a significantly more joyful affair.