Solaniwa Onsen, a new hot spring resort in Osaka, has enlisted the Olympic figure skater Nobunari Oda for its launch campaign.
Developed by UltraSuperNew, the TV campaign is designed to appeal to anyone looking to unwind and recharge, which is what hot springs specialise in. Oda, a descendent of the historical ruler Oda Nobunaga, is cast as the goddess Benten, who whisks a worn-out young woman to sanctuary on a golden barge. He declares the resort “beauti-furo”, a play on the word ‘o-furo’, which means ‘bath’.
Oda the ice skater is less fearsome than Oda the warlord. According to UltraSuperNew, he was chosen as brand ambassador for his sensitivity, respect for others, and embodying a “hospitable nature”. The resort follows a theme of the Azuchi-Momoyama period of Japan’s history, a time of unification with Osaka at the centre.
Japan is known for its culture of bathing, and visiting hot springs remains a popular pastime, although depopulation and changing travel habits threaten the sector. Solaniwa’s themed positioning can be seen as an effort to appeal to the younger generation by adding a novelty factor to its service.
Campaign’s view: Hot spring resorts are not usually big TV advertisers, so the campaign is notable for its scale. The theme-park imagery the work puts forward won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s an intriguing use of a sports personality and is likely to encourage people who might not typically visit a hot spring to consider going.