Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can advertising help Japan? Yes, we can!

Well, since we're always talking about ideation in our line of work, then I think this shouldn't be excluded. So, we're thinking of innovative solutions on how to help Japan to get back at her feet, while her people are so wonderfully, heartwarmingly, calmly and respectfully trying to help one another to hold the fort.

According to the news, Japan needs blood donors, money for aid, food, water and electricity. These are common needs which normally arise during natural disasters but they have a more serious situation looming, which is nuclear radiation.

So while the world is raising funds for aid and relief and countries are sending in their expert teams, maybe... just maybe we can help them by different ideas and solutions? Here are some that were kind of brewing:

1) Their economy is in a disastrous state. The government is pumping in money to sustain it and calling Japanese all over the world to send money back to the country. What if, we from all over the world can send 'investment loans' to Japan? Maybe the country will return the loan in 5 years, 10 years, or whatever stipulated years without interest? If 1 million people provide $100 and 500,000 people invest $1000 and 100,000 gives $10,000, we would have a total of $1.6m already.

2) This may sound very utopian, but if every family can take in another who has been a victim of the earthquake disaster for a short period of time instead of leaving the homeless in the shelter, this will give the government enough time to concentrate on recovery and rebuilding. In no time, Japan will be as good as new. I suppose, this works best within the country.

3) Stretching the idea from number two. Due to the radiation situation, what if the people around the world can loan a home to the Japanese until things are calmer and warmer? Especially for the elderly, pregnant women and children?

4) One of Japan's key economic pillars is tourism, what if we explore the possibility of 'voluntourism' instead? Normally, voluntourism is popular in third world countries but not somewhere like Japan, but this could be a good time over the course of a year for people from all over the world to not just visit the country, but experience her spirit in the face of such moment. People could help to rebuild the country by volunteering their time, money, resources and most importantly, encouragement. The Japanese thrives on the 'gambatte' spirit :)

5) Japan has always been good at building brands. And their brands have always been extremely nationalistic. Which is why, many corporations like Toyota, not only compete with its native competition, but also the likes of other brands, more so by nationality, namely Korean, Chinese, etc. What if these other national brands can put aside their nationalism and competitiveness for the sake of humanity, instead focus on donation to the Japanese people?

6) This must be a miracle, but what if we don't stop buying Japanese brands? But pledge our brand loyalty for the next two years as part of our 'economic donation' to help them back to speed?

7) A candlelight vigil in every country. People queue in silence with candles for minutes and even hours, till they reach the end of the line, where they get to send a video message to the people in Japan. The vigil itself allows others to experience the need for calmness and discipline in time of crisis. And for once, we're hoping that news channels will broadcast this to the Japanese instead of the other way round allowing the people to tune in to a specified channel 24/7 and watch hundreds, thousands, if not millions of people queuing with them, sharing messages that will lift any discouraged spirit.

Well so far, we only have seven ideas. Some definitely jolt you a little but before, before, before you switch into auto mode and say 'no, that's not possible', please, please, please consider thinking outside the line for once. You need innovative ways to help a country that already has a longstanding innovative culture.

While all these ideas were bubbling in the cauldron, I had a 'lightbulb' question. For every disaster that strikes somewhere, there is of course, a standard set of dire problems that need immediate attention. But almost, always, there is always an additional problem (or two, or three) that are entirely unique to the country due to its political, economical, technological, social, environmental, and even geographical nature. But the global solution to these problems are always the same. Fundraising. Yes, money is important and that we have already established before. But what else? Haiti after the disaster, sent the country back 20 years ago (or maybe more) but Japan who is a fairly prosperous country, will lose maybe 5 years of its future. I'm not implying that money aid is not important to them. But economic stability seems to me, weighs more in the long run. While we tackle immediate visible issues, how do we put in place a strategic plan to tackle mid to long term, invisible ones? Yes, the question is, what else?

We always tell our clients, every one of their problems need a tailor-made solution. Likewise, likewise, how can we as a global community, put our heads together to tailor-make a solution for Japan, simply because like a good friend of mine had put it, "We are all citizens of Earth". How can we get our neighbour back on her feet quickly?

And because Cat is Japanese. I am responsible for reassuring him that his hometown is in good hands.

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