The work of actress and director Hitomi Kuroki, ‘Wakareuta’ (Breakup song) is a two-part series that deals with the themes of friendship, aging and the longing for romance. It’s the story of a middle-aged single mother who, when attending a high school reunion, is touched by memories of unfulfilled love and thoughts of what might have been, but also the possibility of a new relationship (see part two below).
Speaking at the Branded Shorts festival, where as a sponsor Nestlé unveiled the film, Nestlé Japan president and CEO Kohzoh Takaoka said the company wanted to convey a more emotional experience than was possible through TV commercials. The film features minimal product placement and is loosely based on Kuroki’s own memories from her high school graduation trip.
Takaoka said straightforward advertising has helped build awareness of the Nescafé brand over the years. But although it’s now well known in Japan, creating an emotional connection with consumers is difficult, he said. Takaoka said branded films can help do that given the freedom for creative expression that the format offers. He noted that branded online films also transcend national borders. Japanese work for KitKat, for example, helped yield a 10 percent market share for a product immediately upon launching it in Korea, he said. “There’s a lot of good a branded movie can bring you,” he concluded.
Campaign’s view: An initial concern was that at around 15 minutes each, the films would be too long. It’s important to remember that just because you can make a long piece of content, it doesn’t mean you should. But the story, acting and soundtrack carry things along well. Many people will probably relate well to the characters and their situation, and we liked the restrained product placement. In the end, it’s just nice to see a brand making a story about its audience, rather than about itself. Whether this will actually sell Nescafé products remains to be seen, of course.