By Léo Azambuja
After nearly 50 years of fighting nonstop for peace, Ultraman and his family decided to take a vacation — in Hawai‘i.
The Hawai‘i Tourism Japan unveiled last month to visitor industry professionals at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort a clever publicity campaign launched to boost Japanese travel to Hawai‘i, and fitting right into the HTJ’s recent push to promote neighbor islands.
First aired in 1966 in Japan, Ultraman quickly became a major pop phenomenon there and in many parts of the world. The series, which has evolved over time, has now been watched by three generations.
HTJ Vice President of Marketing Mitsue Varley said Ultraman is a brand recognized by 100 percent of Japanese. By comparison, Coca Cola is recognized by 97 percent of Japanese.
Earlier this year, actors dressed as Ultraman, his wife and their son, Taro, traveled all around Hawai‘i, including Kaua‘i, to shoot promotional videos and pictures to be used in the campaign.
The promotional video shows Ultraman’s family visiting several locations in Hawai‘i, doing activities, enjoying the beach, sight-seeing and dancing hula. Ultraman and his wife also took the opportunity to renew their vows.
The Ultra-Hawai‘i campaign kicked off March 6 and will last until Sept. 30. It includes a stamp rally and is aimed solely at Japanese visitors to Hawai‘i. On O‘ahu, the campaign will include placing four 8-foot-tall Ultraman statues in different locations.
Varley said the producer who was involved in shooting the video for Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics is the same who produced the videos shot on Kaua‘i and throughout the state for the Ultra-Hawai‘i campaign.
Hawai‘i and its culture have a large appeal among Japanese, and the islands are the fourth most popular international vacation destination for Japanese travellers, according to Varley.
Japanese visitors to Hawai‘i usually choose O‘ahu as a destination for weddings, and then leave for a neighbor island for their honeymoon, she said.
The campaign, Varley said, has 55 partners in four major islands, including seven partners on Kaua‘i:Avis Rent a Car, Smith’s Fern Grotto Cruise, Kilohana Plantation, Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa, Palms Restaurant, The Shops at Kukui‘ula and Hilo Hattie Lihu‘e.