Earlier this month, confectionery company Glico launched a new promotional campaign for their ever-popular Pocky range of chocolate-covered biscuit sticks. The much-loved konbini snack’s new slogan, “Koibito ha Pocky,“ translates to the slightly bewildering statement, “Pocky is your lover.”
Introducing Your New Pocky Lovers
A handful of handsome illustrated characters adorn the boxes of each of the Pocky flavors, all brandishing Pocky sticks along with sweet smiles and alluring winks to entice you. The reverse of the packaging includes a profile of each guy citing their name, birthday, blood type, height and weight as well as a short bio containing some insightful information about their hobbies and preferences. Who would have guessed that “Ultra Fine” (slim) Pocky’s slender, bespectacled, representative, Tsugihiko Kyougoko, likes to read 50 books a month?
Their looks and personalities are an attempt to epitomize the attributes and charms of each Pocky variety. “The Milk’s” Nami Shiroyama, aside from having the kanji for white in his name, has wavy hair that matches the unique wavy shape of the Pocky sticks, while “Heartful” Strawberry heart-shaped sticks manifest themselves as adorable pink-haired cutie Kokoro Furuichi, and “Original” Pocky’s Koichiro Akazawa is a classic bright-eyed heartthrob wearing a box co-ordinated fuzzy red sweater.
Where Augmented Reality Apps and Japanese Snack Food Collide
If customers download the “aug!“ augmented reality app, they can scan the character’s image on the front of the box to conjure up the boy on their smartphone screen in animated form. Popular voice actors have been assigned to each potential lover, ensuring that if handsome anime boys aren’t enough of an attraction, then the dedicated following of seiyuu (voice actors) stars will yield some more sales and app downloads. By using the camera function and appearing in front of your view in Pokemon Go style, whether in your bedroom or the convenience store aisle, the Pocky lovers come to life and deliver a series of charming lines to make your heart race.
The Allure of 2D Boyfriends as Valentine’s Day Draws Near
We should all know by now that Japan doesn’t need logic or reason to make cute mascots or anime characters for anything and everything, so getting augmented reality boyfriends with your snacks is nothing more than a bit of pointless fun. The most interesting part of the campaign is that it’s been launched in the run up to Valentine’s Day, Japan’s biggest chocolate sales push of the year … where men are target recipients. You might dismiss this as obvious bait for lonely female customers, but I’m yet to hear any of the Pocky boys address me with a specifically female pronoun, so I hope that implies it’s progressive Pocky love for everyone.
From the Konbini to the TV Screen: Sanrio Boys and Embracing Happiness
For those of you who are delighted by the news of Pocky ha Koibito, you might also enjoy the long-awaited Sanrio ikemen (hot guy) anime, Sanrio Danshi, which began airing this month. Hello Kitty’s founding company introduced the “Sanrio Boys” through SNS and abundant merchandise two years ago with nothing more than the astonishingly simple concept – handsome high school boys who unabashedly love Sanrio characters. The almost non-existent plot seems to center around the boys’ friendship and overcoming the stigma of liking character goods to embrace the joy and happiness they can bring. Yep, that’s about it. (Coincidentally, “Almond Crush” Pocky beau Kohei Mondo is voiced by Takuya Eguchi, who happens to be the voice of Sanrio Danshi protagonist, Pom Pom Purin-loving Kouta Hasegawa.)
So stay strong, and you too can overcome the embarrassment of spending the run up to Valentine’s Day and White Day by standing outside convenience stores talking to your two-dimensional Pocky dates.
Pocky ha Koibito packs are in stores now. You can find out more at the special campaign website here.
Sanrio Danshi is on screens now. Check their website for a full TV and streaming schedule.