E Asia Branding Digest April 2018
Cartoons are the theme of this month’s digest including Peppa Pig as the unlikely gangster icon in China.
Aggretsuko, the Death Metal panda (Japan)
Aggretsuko is a TV show that has actually been around for a while in Japan, but only just gained a global reach when Netflix bought it over. It’s about a red panda who’s a mild and oppressed office worker by day, but secretly blows off steam from her job via death metal karaoke at night.
I think the show is relevant and interesting for several reasons! For one thing, Japanese millennials have typically been something of a mystery (esp to US/ European marketers), because they seem to buck so many global trends. This show provides really on-point insight about the pressures of Japanese millennial life – showing how traditional cultural experiences like loyalty, hierarchy, patriarchy etc. conflict with a growing desire for self-definition and freedom/flexibility
More broadly, the show is also interesting because of how it redefines femininity and cuteness in a Japanese context. The show is produced by Sanrio, whose most famous other character is a kitten who is so docile/girly that she literally has no mouth to speak (Hello Kitty)… go figure.
https://www.netflix.com/title/80198505 (Every episode is just 15 min, so might be worth a watch)
Peppa Pig goes gangster (China)
In China over the past few weeks, Peppa Pig has become an unlikely gangster icon for the “Society People” subculture – with people splicing her into lewd rap videos, getting gnarly tattoos of her, etc— to the extent that she’ now been banned on social media (probably by the government).
So this is kind of a weird one! But I think that it illustrates how diversely branded icons can be translated across borders – even ones that are already pre-loaded with cultural signification back in their home countries. Smart brands know how to work with consumers’ own creative interpretations, rather than trying to wrest interpretive control back from them— not sure which approach Entertainment One will take, given that they’re planning to open several Peppa Pig theme parks in China next year!