A large cherry tree stands just across the street from our home at the corner of my son’s preschool. Each spring the tree carpets the playground and the street with blossom petals deep enough for children to scoop up handfuls and toss in the air.
On a recent warm Sunday afternoon as I was going inside, a burst of wind came around the corner and spun up the street, making a tornado of pink petals. For a time, it was like standing inside a snow globe that had been shaken. Visually stunned, I watched for several moments before rushing inside get a camera. When I returned it was gone. The only trace of the scene was the many petals that had blown inside the door. If not for that, I might have thought it something I’d imagined. But there was irrefutable proof, I had seen it.
At roughly the same time across town a friend, Toshinau Morishige, Chairman Emeritus of Ogilvy Japan, and one of the most respected people in Japan advertising, had come to the end his long, productive life. And so two days later, on a shiny morning, we went to Gaienmae to pay our respects. There was a list of condolences from CEOs of great companies, but the greatest tributes were the red, teary eyes of the support staff who always knew they could talk to him. Executive and secretary alike were there to confirm it to each other. Yes, indeed, we hadn’t imagined it: He was that good.
“Hello, foreigner, stay away,” may have been a more accurate theme than “Endless Discovery” for Japan’s latest attempt to attract tourists. While the Japan Tourism Agency was announcing its campaign last week, foreigners were being banned from one of the most popular attractions for Tokyo visitors — the Tsukiji fish market and its morning auction.
If that weren’t self-defeating enough, the music group “Arashi,” was hired on to attract Korean and Chinese tourists because, well, we’re not sure. It is a pretty good guess that Koreans and Chinese visit Japan for reasons other than this is where these guys live. As for the slogan, “Endless Discovery,” it was quickly ridiculed by many in foreign community: Endless Discovery that your Japanese lessons were a waste of money and time; endless discovery that you’re doing the wrong thing; endless discovery that you’re lost, and so on.
Our free advice: 1) Read “Nation Branding” by Keith Dennie; 2) Support negotiations with Western TV to rebroadcast the Japanese travel programs that are shown regularly on the major Japanese channels. This worked really well with the Western rebroadcasts of Takeshi-jo and Sasuke, generating a lot of interest in Japan.
President Obama moves to narrow the U.S. use of nuclear arms and, as expected, the morning Japanese wide shows focused on something evidently more important: The return of Tiger Woods to professional golf competition.
Actually, it was the second day that Woods led the morning wides, and one commentator defended it, saying that the world’s most famous golfer was bigger than Obama. We’ll assume this wasn’t a serious comment, but rather a way of explaining that Woods is infinitely more fun to talk about.
Woods, after violating nearly every basic rule of crisis communication, is finally back to where he needed to be well before this — competing. His non-golf notoriety will continue, no doubt about that, but he will go on. Poorer, but, it is hoped, wiser for the whole adventure. Some of his sponsorships are gone, too, most likely forever. That’s fine. Now that the fiction of Tiger Wonderful is gone, we can move on to more pressing matters.
Anybody care to discuss nuclear proliferation? I didn’t think so.
This from the BBC: South Africa police shootings up 25 % in one year. Perhaps, this would have gone unnoticed except for another story broadcast several days ago on NHK’s evening broadcast.
An NHK crew was getting some footage of Johannesburg streets as the lead in for a story about the city’s efforts to increase security ahead of the World Cup in June. Japanese tourists (among world’s most popular – they stay only a few days, spend a lot, and cause little trouble) are a key audience to attract for a successful event. But the story, as stories often do, went another direction. With cameras rolling, four(?) robberies took place and one suspect was chased and shot by the police. The story went from “safe streets” to “stay the hell away from here.” Eventually, the story moved to the original theme, showing cops training, driving cars fast, shooting and such. Nice visuals, but hardly reassuring.