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Geometry Japan tries to convince young Japanese to give kelp-drying a chance with ad campaign and app

A campaign for Rishiri town near Hokkaido Japan is encouraging young people to visit and lend a hand in drying kombu kelp, a vital ingredient in Japanese cuisine.

Created by Geometry Japan, the campaign involves a film and an app ‘Kombu Hosu Hosu – Virtual Kelp Drying’ which provides a gamified experience of the effort required in creating kombu kelp.

It aims to move young Japanese from drying virtual seaweed to the real deal, encouraging them to head out to Rishiri and become part-time workers to assist in kelp production.

The campaign was inspired by Japan’s aging population which has resulted in a decline in the workforce engaged in a physically challenging activity like kelp drying. This was especially true of Rishiri which was apparently aging faster than the national norm, with 41% of the population over 65 years old.

Drying kelp held few charms for the young Japanese, and part-timers were known to leave plumb in the middle of the drying season, overcome by the labour-intensive nature of the job. 

As a result, it is feared that a vital part of the national cuisine may no longer be on the menu two decades from now.  And so the game which accurately simulates kelp drying, right down to a bossy fisherman yelling out instructions. 

Speaking about the campaign, Rishiri town government office supervisor of agriculture, forestry and fisheries promotion department Toshiya Hiranuma said: “Since junior high school, I’ve dried kombu kelp myself but nowadays young people are not into it anymore, because it is tough work. 

“The whole industry has been struggling with labour shortage caused by aging and depopulation. We really need our younger generation to join in, but didn’t know how. 

“Geometry Japan’s idea fortunately came in at the right moment and we enjoyed working with them to make it happen. I think the success factor is an unusual combination of drying kombu kelp and mobile technology. 

“Hopefully many people will experience drying kombu kelp and ultimately apply for the actual job, revitalising Rishiri town.”

Geometry Japan executive creative director Fumitaka Takano  who led planning, production and PR of this project added: “The challenge is not just the number of applicants. We’d like applicants to not leave in the middle of the season. 

“I believe this campaign makes it easy for people to experience drying kombu kelp while bridging the gap between the fun and hard part of the job. Our young team members tried to introduce the ideas of gamification and entertainment and carefully crafted the story and the character with appropriate tone and manner that anyone can enjoy. 

“We hope to contribute to the recruitment and finally rejuvenate the kombu kelp industry.”

Credits

Agency: Geometry Japan
Client: Rishiri Town Industry Promotion Division
Executive creative director: Fumitaka Takano
Creative director + art director + illustration: Katsuya Yamamoto
Copywriter + planner: Hirohisa Fujiwara
Photographer: Kenji Yamada
PR: Shima Hayashi
Programmer: Takashi Moriyama(General Incorporated Association Omusubi)

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