Brands Creating Bands: The Next Evolution for Marketing in Japan?

On March 19, mysterious new Japanese girl band 5572320 made their live performance debut in Shinjuku after having released a single music video online, but not revealing their identity.

Millions of YouTube views and forum threads later, and a few more details about the group have been revealed including a partnership that takes “branded content” to the next level. Of course brands teaming up with bands is not a new concept, with everyone from American Express to Converse and Redbull working (quite seamlessly) with existing high profile bands and DJs in creative ways.

Where 5572320 differs is that the band itself has been created by a brand – Coconut Sable, a popular cookie. (In fact, the string of numbers can be creatively pronounced “go go nana tsu san fu rei,” which sounds like Coconut Sable if you say it quickly. Try it out – We’ll wait.)

They’re an eight-piece all-female band – five guitarists and three drummers – and are all junior high students. After much online debate about the true identity of the group before they appeared in public, it has also been revealed that the young members of 5572320 are also part of popular idol group Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku.

Their first performance was in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Coconut Sable cookies going on sale, as well as the cookies featuring in their music videos and press photos. This not-so-subtle brand partnership seems to be going from strength to strength. Coconut Sable biscuits are now even being sold in special 5572320 and Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku packaging.

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The band’s first single “Hanseiki Yuutousei” (Half a Century Honor Student) amassed over 1.8M views within the first week of its video release. The song was all about feeling a desire for change – potentially another tie-in with Coconut Sable as they attempt to change their image from an old conservative brand to a more youthful, cutting edge and creative product.

On October 5 the band’s second single, “Ponpara Pecorna Papiyotta,” was released. This track explores the internal struggle between whether one should or should not change, depicting the period of turmoil when one transitions from a child to an adult. Again, the Coconut Sable references are blatant throughout the video, but the sheer wackiness keeps the level of entertainment high. The star-studded lineup featuring on Ponpara Pecorna Papiyotta includes KenKen (of Rize fame), Hideki Aoyama (currently the drummer for Baby Metal) and seminal guitarist Tsuneo Imahori.

For those with an interest in marketing, this will be a particularly unique case study. It will be intriguing to see how this collaboration pans out – will the group continue releasing music, backed exclusively by Coconut Sable cookies? Will other brands follow suit and curate their own slice of pop culture to sell their products?

Either way, the tunes are actually pretty catchy and technically quite impressive – and the visuals are awesome. Maybe best to not over-think it and just enjoy the music with a handful of cookies.

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– Chris Zajko

 

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