David Blecken
Mar 13, 2015

Saga City deploys alien fish to lure tourists

JAPAN - In an intriguing effort to attract visitors, the Saga City municipality has brought out a film that tells the tale of an apparently alien life form that lives in the Ariake Sea around Kyushu.

Client: Saga City

Agency: Geometry Global

Market: Japan

The campaign: The two-and-a-half-minute film recently debuted on YouTube and has so far clocked up more than 74,000 views, along with largely positive comments. It centres on the warasubo, a type of goby, or eel-like fish that inhabits the Ariake.

The creature’s strange and rather frightening looks invite comparison with Hollywood-style predatory extraterrestrials, and the film—in the style of a trailer—sets the scene for an epic B-movie. As well as entertaining, it aims to convey the warmth of the people of Saga, and indeed features them as actors.

Following the discovery of mysterious remains next to the airport, panic spreads. The warasubo is given the more mysterious name of ‘WRSB’, with inhabitants fearing that the creature is about to devour everything in its path.

The film features the city’s real mayor, Toshiyuki Hideshima, who said he was initially surprised by the concept of the promotion, but decided to go along with it anyway.

“I … wondered how we might attract more people to the area through warasubo, which is not traditionally special to us,” Hideshima said in a statement. “The final product is hugely entertaining, and I have no doubt that it will help encourage people to visit and explore the beauty of Saga.”

In an unexpected twist, the film ends with a Saga inhabitant eating a warasubo while sitting on the beach, and pronouncing it delicious.

Agency comment: In a statement, Masato Mitsudera, Geometry Global Japan’s head of creative, said he “wanted to convey a mixture of shock and anticipation through the film". The agency reportedly struck up a strong relationship with the city's mayor, which naturally helped with the production.

“We are proud to have worked with the mayor of Saga on this project, and I hope the film grabs people’s attention and triggers a curiosity to see warasubo and visit Saga,” he said.

Campaign Asia-Pacific’s comments: The film is a welcome departure from the norms of destination marketing, particularly in Japan, where tourist promotions are usually quite conservative. The ‘WRSB’ itself brings to mind the supposed remains of a kappa, a water imp in Japanese folklore, which went on display in the country last year. The elevation of the humble goby into an alien monster is imaginative, and the indirect promotion gives an offbeat character to a city that many holidaymakers would otherwise probably overlook. Will it all be successful in attracting intrepid tourists to Saga? We hope so, and would like to see more of this sort of thing.


Agency: Geometry Global Japan (GGJ) 

Client: Saga City

Creative Director: Masato Mitsudera (GGJ)

Art Director: Akihiko Ono (GGJ)

Producer: Masao Omokawa

Director: Kengo Arima

Camera: Yuta Shimotsu

Computer Graphics: Yoshihisa Toyoda (GGJ)

Casting: Shoichiro Nakajima

Colourist: Hiroshi Yasuoka

Offline Editor: Shingo Sasaki

Mixer: Yu Sato

Production Manager: Takeshi Shichijo

Production Assistant: Yuka Funakoshi

Cast: Toshiyuki Hideshima, Saga City mayor, and citizens    


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