n Japan, early spring is known as the shin seikatsu, or “new lifestyle” season. That’s because both the academic and business years start in spring, so right about now a lot of people are still settling in to a new school, job, or office (since company personnel transfers usually happen in spring too).
If you’ve moved to a new place for school or work, the first thing you’re going to need to do is set up your apartment with the necessary furniture, furnishings, and appliances, and so a lot of stores in Japan are running ad campaigns boasting about how they’re the best place to take care of all your new lifestyle needs. That includes discount retailer Don Quijote, and if you step into one of their stores you’ll probably come across this poster.
That’s popular Japanese actor Eita Nagayama promoting Don Quijote’s store brand of appliances. Except…he doesn’t look all that fired up, does he? Usually you can expect appliance ads to show someone with their hands raised in the sky and a joyous smile on their face, or at least a luxuriously contended expression in order to show how this high-performance home machinery makes their life so much better. Nagayama, in contrast, seems entirely unexcited by the idea of appliances……and it turns out that’s by design.
That text at the top of the poster? It translates to: “You only need something for a few years while you’re going to school or living by yourself for work? For simple-function appliances like that, Don Quijote is good enough!”
▼ ドンキで十分だ！ = Donki [Don Quijote’s nickname] is good enough!
It’s a bold thing for a company to say about its own products. Granted, Don Quijote has always put its high value-for-cost in the forefront of its marketing, but still, you’d usually expect an ad to say something like “Great items at low prices!” or “You won’t believe how much you’re getting for the price!” Straight-up telling shoppers, “Eh, this isn’t the top of the line, but it’s probably all you’re going to need for a the next few years” is almost brutally honest, and Don Quijote’s poster has been getting a lot of attention online, with Titter reactions including:
“Very convincing sales pitch.”
“I like a company that tells it like it is.”
“Reminds me of Black Thunder’s ‘You know this is obligation chocolate’ ads.”
“Very gracious and sincere.”
“Straightforward and to the point, but it still took a lot of guts to make an ad like that.”
We especially agreed with that last point, so we called up Don Quijote and spoke with the employee who came up with the idea for the ad about how it was created, and he told us:
"Our company’s philosophy in designing products is to focus on their core functions and offer them at a low price. So I wanted to send the message to students and people starting their first jobs that these products aren’t loaded with functions they probably aren’t going to use, but are still going to meet their needs, and at a low price.
"But instead of something like 'Good value!' or 'Just right for your lifestyle!' I decided to convey that message in a way that fits with the image shoppers have of our store, and ended up with something a little self-deprecating and startling."
As for how his bosses reacted when he told them his idea: "I was a little nervous when I made my presentation for the idea, but everyone in the meeting said “It’s straightforward and easy to understand! It’s the kind of advertising copy that only our company could use.”
It’s worth reiterating that when Don Quijote says its products are “good enough for a few years,” they’re not saying they’re designed to break and be replaced after that. They’re talking about special functions like timers, personalized settings, smart device connectivity, and the like. Things that, sure, are nice to have, and maybe especially handy if you’re sharing your home with a spouse and/or kids, where household chores are a bigger project and being able to set up appliances to automate or adapt to a different users is a major convenience. For your first studio apartment, though, odds are a lot of those functions are things you’ll never bother with anyway, so why not go with a simpler model and save some cash for other things?
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