Lady “Kaga”: The Power of Association

As my NYU classmate in the PR program, Nadia Mostafa, mentioned in her blog post, creating a context that ties a small local organization with existing centers of media attention is one of the most effective and successful strategies for PR campaigns.

A similar PR practice can be seen in my country, Japan. One of the visible examples is the “Lady Kaga” (not “Gaga”) campaign. Kaga is a small town in western Japan famous for onsen (hot springs). To reenergize the tourism business hammered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the town launched a promotional campaign capitalizing on the similarity of the town’s name (Kaga) to the name of the American celebrity (Gaga) last fall. Ryokan (Japanese traditional inns) distribute posters, update their Facebook pages, and post promotional videos on YouTube that feature Kaga ryokan staff members, including geisha dancing to the music of Lady Gaga.

Since the launch of the campaign, Kaga has been covered in many news outlets. As of February 24, 2012, the videos have been viewed about 400,000 times. The small local town is full of tourists. To sustain the campaign, the Lady Kaga women wrote a letter to Lady Gaga inviting her to the beautiful hot springs. “Have a rest from your very busy daily life,” they wrote to the Japanophile pop star.

Lady Gaga has been very popular in Japan, especially since March 11. She raised money for Japanese relief efforts as well as donated millions of dollars personally.  In addition, she came to Japan last June for benefit concerts for the victims while many stars cancelled their visits. Japan is safe. The top singer helped spread the message around the world.

Since the earthquakes and tsunamis, the number of foreigners visiting Japan has decreased. Positive publicity is crucial to lure visitors back.

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