Sunday, August 21, 2005

Get 'em while they're young

This story has been making the rounds the last couple weeks...

It seems that a company in Japan has been selling tons of a product called Kidsbeer...a non-alcoholic "beer" geared specifically for children. At first, this Guarana-based beverage was just a regular sweet tasting softdrink. But Satoshi Tomoda, president of drink-producer Tomomasu, colored the drink dark brown, lessened the sweetness, made it more frothy, put it in beer bottles, and called it Kidsbeer.

And it's a big hit. Initially, they were shipping 200 bottles out per month of the Guarana soda. After marketing it as beer for children, they are shipping 75,000 bottles per month. Get this...their slogan is:

Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink.

Nice...

President Tomoda said that his Kidsbeer is great because, "If you get this drink ready on such occasions such as events and celebrations attended by kids, it would make the occasions more entertaining." He also said this product is perfect for kids because "children copy and mimic adults."

OK...so at the wedding, little Taku will act like daddy and get "pretend" drunk on Kidsbeer and go back up to the room with Mr. Tanaka's wife after putting roofies in her Sake?

But this is Japan afterall. Japanese culture is not only foreign to Americans...it's really really really weird.

Japan is home to: Godzilla, Pat Morita, Long Duck Dong, and Hello Kitty. Seriously...you ever watch a Japanese game show? Weird, weird, weird.

Japanese culture is quite different. Mr. Tomoda's comment about events being more fun for children with Kidsbeer makes sense, coming from the Japanese point of view. Their culture emphasizes the group instead of the individual. Here in America, the opposite is true. In Japan, to "fit in" with the others and do as they do is a strong cultural/societal desire. We call it conformity. They call it unity.

Here's the most pressing issue...Kidsbeer is a Guarana drink. What exactly is Guarana? What are they really giving kids?

Guarana is from a plant that grows in South America. It's found in the Amazon and in parts of Brazil. Guarana is known for packing a punch - it's a caffeine type of stimulant. There have been no real studies done on Guarana and the effects on children. They believe it may cause anemia, and it's a strong diuretic. Get this...

Many speculate that it's also an aphrodisiac.

That's just great. Now little Taku will be at the wedding acting JUST like his father for sure.

The thing is, why stop at fake beer? How about Candy Cocaine? Happy Heroin? Maybe they can market some zoysia grass wrapped in paper and call it Kidsjoint.


Little Taku could get a jump start with learning the ways of REAL adults with his fake beer and fake drugs. It'll be great practice for the authentic stuff. When he comes to America to go to college, he'll fit right in!

13 comments:

Jim said...

phoenix -- except for the wicked punch, isn't root beer the same basic idea, A&W even serves it in mugs.

MH_Middlechild said...

That's so odd, I'm not even sure what to think about it. Imagine if President Bush said "This product is perfect for kids because children copy and mimic adults." They have him impeached before he could finish the sentence.
As for the Japanese culture, my kids love everything from Japan. My life is full of Japanese show, games, and music. Most of it gives me a migrane but they soak it all in.

The Phoenix said...

Root beer originally was an alcoholic beverage. Here in the States, breweries were able to stay open by making candies and root beer, and other sodas. Even to this day, they still put root beer in "beer" bottles. Root beer has such a nostalgic feeling attached to it,and that's how it's marketed.
I think the problem Westerners will have with Kidsbeer in Japan is the marketing to children. 'Your parents drink alcohol and now you can pretend also.'
That's why you don't see candy cigarettes here anymore. Parents don't want kids to imitate smoking. And I bet they don't want kids to imitate drinking alchohol either.

The Phoenix said...

Japanese culture is very strange, but entertaining. Anime is very popular here. As is karaoke. I loved watching Godzilla kick Mothra's butt as a kid.
I even drive a Nissan.

Tom said...

There are a lot of things out there geared to children that are questionable. Remember candy cigarettes? Or how about Big League Chew? Japan is not alone in this arena of bad marketing to children.

sirensong72 said...

And here I thought root beer was invented to wean the kids off the moonshine. Shows what I know.

The U.S. tobacco and alcohol companies prefer a more "passive-aggressive" approach to marketing to our children. The in-your-face Japanese style would never fly here.

I thought it was marketing genius (ha) to make the Jell-O cups for kids lunches and then to make the Jell-O with alcohol in the same cups and packaging. The unknowing parent sending their kids to school with a Jell-O shot. That's brilliant.

Jim said...

siren -- so that's why I enjoyed the 5th grade soooooooo much

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