2. The brand that couldn’t die?

My roommate and I are both Japanese majors (I’m double-majoring in Japanese and Advertising). Needless to say, we talk about Japanese culture A LOT of the time we’re together. Last week when we were fixing dinner, my roommate asked, “Have you heard of Hatsune Miku?” I knew she was an animated character known as a Vocaloid. Vocaloid is a synthesizer program created by Yamaha that uses voice samplings from different Japanese voice actors. The user of Vocaloid can create songs and sounds that resemble speech by putting different samples together. Each new Vocaloid system uses the voice samples of a different actor and, along with that, an animated character (also referred to as a Vocaloid) is created to represent the product and the voice samples used in the product. The first character created was Hatsune Miku, whose name means “first sound” in Japanese. Created by Crypton Future Media , she is known for her long, turquoise pigtails. Her image and sound has turned her into such an icon that fans attend digital concerts where music created using her sounds is played while she is displayed as a digital hologram. In May of this year, Toyota announced that they were teaming up with Hatsune Miku herself for their new Corolla campaign.

“I have heard of her! She’s in all of the new commercials for Toyota,” I replied.

“She’s kind of creepy,” my roommate continued. “She can never die!” she added.

This thought had never really crossed my mind before. It’s of course true that one of the amazing things about animated characters is that they live on in history forever, even after the original media they were created for is no longer being produced, such as a cartoon series. People still remember the love they had for the character! Like the love of a character, a brand is more about the emotional thoughts and ideas. It’s more about giving people a feeling to remember rather than a price.

Looking at it from a brand perspective, Toyota chose a new spokesperson for their Corolla campaign who is immortal. What does this say about the life of their brand and product? If their spokesperson is immortal, perhaps that represents the idea of Toyota being immortal as well. While a brand needs many things to be immortal, such as a high-quality product and customer service worth bragging about, having an immortal spokesperson doesn’t hurt either.

Here is a compilation of ads for the new Toyota Corolla, featuring Hatsune Miku.

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