TOKYO – ‘A new type of malnutrition is a hot issue among Japanese youth nowadays.’ It’s with these dire words that Ikkyu Sato, creative director of Kaibutsu, opens our chat about the studio’s marketing campaign for Japanese restaurant chain Dohtonbori. ‘Even though they eat three meals a day and consume sufficient calories, their intake lacks nutritional balance. They’re left feeling sluggish and tired – and are quick to catch a cold.’
The restaurant’s main staple – okonomiyaki, a savoury Japanese pancake featuring shredded cabbage and eggs – has been misjudged as ‘bad fast food’. To clear things up, Ikkyu – together with art director Junya Sato, designer Aya Sato, and planners Tatsuya Ishikawa and Kentaro Muraishi – set out to rebrand Dohtonbori with a ‘tasty and healthy’ image.
Besides designing eateries that serve food prepared from 100 per cent locally grown vegetables, the team also came up with Fast Food Aid, a pop-up store that offered vitamin supplements to fast foodies. Shoppers flocked in steadily, attracted by the neon ‘For Free’ sign and the bright retail space, which occupied a prime Tokyo location during Japan’s longest holiday period.
What they found inside was reminiscent of a doctor’s practice, with two professional nutritionists providing free advice based on each individual’s last fast-food meal. In an attempt to confront visitors with their undesirable eating habits, these specialists handed out bottles of supplements carefully selected to compensate for the nutrients lacking in the mentioned meal. Each person received a note explaining the health benefits of okonomiyaki and a coupon with the address of the nearest Dohtonbori restaurant. ‘Visitors who dropped in for supplements were surprised by the shop’s real aim,’ says Ikkyu of his studio’s clever marketing stunt. ‘They left the store saying they would pay attention to their eating habits from now on.’ Some laughed, he adds, wondering what to eat next and presumably heading off to cash in their coupons.
Photos courtesy of Dohtonbori
This shop was featured in Frame 112. Find your copy in the Frame store.