David Blecken
Feb 22, 2017

Flying puppy takes regional branding to new heights

The Japanese town of Oji is showcasing its charms with the help of a drone dog.

Abundant as they are, mascots for Japan’s rural towns seem to have kept a low profile over the past year (either that, or they have simply all blended into one). But Oji’s is quite different.

Really, it is. Behold Yukimaru, a drone puppy named after the pet of a 7th-century prince. Looking like a not-too-distant cousin of SoftBank's Otosan, the white, bandana-wearing animal makes a tour of the town, passing through a zazen meditation session and the local shrine, past a lovers’ bell, and up to the summit of a mountain offering panoramic views over Nara.

The drone is real. And while it’s the main attraction of this promotion, a mascot can’t be called a mascot without also appearing for photo opportunities as a larger-than-life costumed character in the local shopping centre (photo below from the creature's inevitable Facebook page).

Campaign’s view: It’s difficult to resist the pull of a flying puppy. Will it actually lead people to visit Oji, a town that doesn’t look that different from many other rural towns across the country? Who knows. But it does help make the place stand out and makes all those flightless characters look positively downmarket.

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