Multicultural Marketing Archive
“Started by a woman, in a time when women didn’t start companies.”
These are the powerful first words that introduce the story behind a brand you probably forgot you have in your kitchen right now. Kikkoman is the #1 best selling soy sauce brand worldwide, in a category filled with syrupy competitors that can rarely lay claim to any sort of cultural heritage – much less one than is more than 300 years old.
In an effort to tell that story, a year ago Kikkoman commissioned Academy Award™ Nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker to produce a short documentary film about the heritage and family creed that has inspired Kikkoman since its beginning. The documentary tells the powerful story of Shige Maki, wife of a slain samurai warrior who escaped Osaka to the city of Edo (today’s Tokyo) in the early 1600s.
Settling in the village of Noda with her son, they learned the craft of brewing shoyu – or soy sauce. As author Ronald E. Yates wrote in The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with a Japanese Soul, “behind every bottle of Kikkoman, there’s a Kikko-woman. The remarkable, resourceful, Shige Maki.”
Today the heritage of the company is told through these powerful videos and the modern day translation of their longtime family creed: Make Haste Slowly. In a world that doesn’t seem to do anything slowly anymore, Kikkoman’s approach stands out. Even their marketing strategy is slow and steady. The videos were produced more than a year ago, and still have barely a quarter million views – a low number considering the ubiquity of the brand.
Yet that understated approach may be part of the appeal. Like many others, I discovered the videos through serendipity and now am writing about them thanks to the power of their storytelling. This is the opposite of a Super Bowl ad. We live in a media landscape where big budgets don’t necessarily lead to capturing mass attention, thanks to “advertising blindness.” Fighting back, many marketers have turned to content marketing as a potential solution to capture the attention of overloaded consumers (a topic I have written about the challenges of before).
The theory behind content marketing is simple: provide solutions or utility through content, and the customers will pay attention because you are providing something valuable instead of promotional. Yet the other thing we know about consumer behaviour is that emotional responses to stories can drive powerful behaviours and beliefs. Solving a problem sometimes isn’t as memorable as sharing a powerful story.
And that ultimately may be the most important lesson that Kikkoman’s story and video can teach us. In a world filled with brands desperate to solve problems and brands dedicated to using shock and awe to capture eyeballs … perhaps the only way to really stand out is to quietly tell a great story.
Today I launched ePatient 2015 – 15 Surprising Trends Changing Healthcare, my newest book focused on the future of healthcare. It might seem like an odd project for me to launch – being a marketing guy. This is the unexpected story of why and how I did it (along with my co-author Fard Johnmar), and why the book might be…Read More >>
The FDA might be accidentally brilliant. Every now and then for the past several years, that thought has crossed my mind. Without context, it may seem like a strange conclusion to make about any government agency. For anyone who was there in DC on November 12, 2009 when the FDA held their first public hearing on social media marketing - this…Read More >>
Imagine you’re a chef. You have spent the last twenty years learning your craft. Studying ingredients and cooking techniques. Working for sometimes maladjusted and dictatorial restaurant owners or lead chefs. And now you’ve made it. You have your own kitchen that you lead – and you’re recognized. Your food has made it onto the plates of celebrities and maybe even…Read More >>
About four years ago I started getting a lot of unsolicited emails from women. My first book, Personality Not Included, had just come out and readers were emailing me with their own stories of how having a personality had made a difference in their own careers. While school often teaches us that we must remove our personality from “professional” communication…Read More >>
What’s the Trend? New and old friends change the travel experience by curating where to go, and offering more local authentic experiences. Your friends are the new travel agent and tour guides, as a host of new services online and offline enable any traveler to get recommendations for unique experiences from friends. Beyond recommendations, this is also enabling far more…Read More >>
What’s the Trend? Business leaders, pop culture and ground-breaking new research intersect to prove that our ideal future will be led by women. We can finally put the old debate to rest … men and women are not equal: women are better. In the coming year, a combination of highly successful female role models, pioneering startups and pop culture references…Read More >>
There has been a single pink folder on my desk since January 15th of this year. That day matters to me for two reasons – first because its my birthday, and second because it’s the day when I start an empty folder with the intention of collecting ideas for my year end trend report. Then throughout the year, I steadily…Read More >>
When I was 17 years old, I wanted to be a playwright. Deciding that I was going to try and learn from within, I landed an internship at the well known Studio Theater in Washington DC. It was 1992, and they were producing a show called Spunk – which adapted several short stories from Zora Neale Hurston. A big part…Read More >>
The last thing I expected to do as I headed down to Austin last week for the SXSW Interactive Festival was to see a film. As a marketer, the fact that SXSW is actually a huge Film and Music festival is a point that I have often easily forgotten. Amongst the sea of startups promoting everything from "social weather" apps…Read More >>