Imagine, if you will, a single brand that covers a car, a fridge, a
beer, a deodorant, a computer - even the annual holiday. Aimed at young
Japanese urban women, WiLL aims to be their transport, the lager they
pull from the WiLL fridge before turning to the WiLL laptop to book
their WiLL holiday. Oh, and the WiLL clothing deodorant makes sure it
all smells sweet. If this isn’t a big enough leap of faith, imagine this
too: the brand does not have a single owner, but is a collaboration
between five giant Japanese corporations.
It all began when Toyota decided to launch a car aimed at 20- to
30-year-old urban women, and then noticed a problem with its new
creation: Toyota’s hold on this particular demographic was weak. In
fact, the company was losing young metropolitans from its customer
profile at an alarming rate.
Toyota found it just wasn’t young, hip or approachable enough, so it
began a search for other major blue-chip companies with the same
From its trawl around Tokyo it found that Asahi, one of Japan’s top beer
companies, also wanted to attract more young women, as did Matsushita
(the maker of Panasonic), Kao, a toiletries company, and the holiday
group, Kinki Japan Tourist.
The result of their collaboration is an amazing campaign. Amazing
because its launch commercial, through Hakuhodo Tokyo, really does
advertise a computer, a car, a fridge, a beer, a deodorant and a holiday
in one 15-second slot. Yes, 15 seconds.
A committee of representatives from all five corporations meets with
Hakuhodo every couple of weeks to the discuss progress of the brand.
Hakuhodo was deputed to handle the jointly funded launch campaign,
encompassing TV, posters, magazines and web ads. However, specific
product advertising is the responsibility of each corporation and is
vetted by the committee to make sure it conveys WiLL’s decreed
’authentic and playful’ positioning.
The WiLL branding is able to cover such a variety of products because of
the WiLL logo, which is a simple orange box. The launch ad, which
features a hip young woman, shows her using all the WiLL products -
wheels are put on the logo to represent the car. The logo also becomes a
screen to represent a computer and opens with a refreshing hiss to
represent the beer and so on.
The advertising is probably not going to win any international awards,
but Kazufumi Nagai, the creative director of Hakuhodo Tokyo, says the
launch has been a phenomenal success. Around 50 per cent females in the
target group showed spontaneous awareness of the brand after its launch,
he says, despite its ’modest’ funding. WiLL beer sold 300 per cent more
than expected, and the deodorant 200 per cent more than anticipated.
It sounds a dramatic feat. Five different corporations with a single
direction. But why WiLL? Nagai has an answer. ’The will of five
different companies coming together,’ he says. ’The will to communicate.
The will to sell.’