written by: Mak Suet Yee, Shirley

If there is one thing Japanese is really addicted to and proud of, it is probably the big business of toilets. NTT Docomo, a renowned Japanese telecom operator launches a comical video to educate inbound visitors how to use toilets in Japan while providing a specialized germ-killing “toilet paper wipes” for their phones at the airport washrooms. 86 rolls of disinfecting wipes for mobile phones are installed in seven washrooms of Tokyo’s Narita airports washrooms from December 2016 to 15 March 2017 [1].
Consumer Insights
Japan Travel Agency (JTA) reveals [2] that washroom is more or less a “must-go” place for visitors on arrival. Getting Wi-Fi connection and relevant travel information are also services that most called for. [2] A clean phone screen is important because it usually has five times of bacteria than a toilet seat [3].
NTT Docomo provides welcome-to-japan message, free airport Wi-Fi connection and travel information on the “toilet paper wipes”. The free airport Wi-Fi connection also guides visitors to the purchase of premium mobile data plan.
The unique “toilet paper wipes” successfully draw visitors’ attention with its convenient and strategic location at the washrooms. It is a practical and informative advertisement that visitors could finish reading in 5-10 seconds while using them on their phone screens. Compared to large billboards at airports, the “toilet paper wipes” is an innovative alternative for attention, probably at much lower cost.
Creativity Paid-off
To make the advertisement more viral, the company published a humorous demonstration video explaining how to use a toilet the Japanese way, proper, comfortable and elegant. [4]
It features a western looking man dressed in suit introducing the various techniques step by step: (1) The “elephant” and “horse tail” styles body-cleaning techniques; (2) The “Sumo” and “Tornado” techniques for using a washlet (Electric toilet seats with water spray feature for genital and anal cleansing, a registered trademark of Japanese toilets); (3) At the end, comically reminding people not to wash their hands from the washlet. The video gains over half a million view just on YouTube since launch.
The campaign also earned global attention and extensive media coverage. The story of the campaign is covered on at least 20 international online press, including BBC, CNN and local media from Japan and different countries, such as Apply Daily HK, JakartaTimes.

Body cleaning styles

Washlet demonstration

Disinfection toilet paper wipes in the restroom

Cross-over with a Unique and Relevant Culture
The emphasis on the toilet services, the high-tech washlet functions and the high-standard of cleanliness is a culture unique to Japan. The government even establishes toilet awards and a museum for appreciating the best public washrooms. The toilets in the country have been praised, becoming a unique fascination and one of the unique topics of Japan and its tourism. NTT Docomo has pulled off a great campaign that addresses consumer needs with practical consumer insights, a unique and relevant Japanese cultural touch, for brand building, awareness and business results.

[1] Julia Zorthian (2016, December 22). Yes, Japan Has Special Toilet Paper for Your Phone. Retrieved April 02, 2017, from http://fortune.com/2016/12/22/japan-toilet-paper-smart-phone/
[2] Bhattacharjya, S. (2017, January 13). Smartphone toilet wipes from NTT Docomo grab eyeballs at Japanese airport. Retrieved April 02, 2017, from http://www.ibtimes.sg/smartphone-toilet-wipes-ntt-docomo-grab-eyeballs-japanese-airport-6420
[3] Boult, A. (2016, December 23). Toilet paper for smartphones now on offer at Japanese airport. Retrieved April 02, 2017, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/23/toilet-paper-smartphones-now-offer-japanese-airport/
[4] HOW TO USE TOILETS in JAPAN [Advertisement]. (2016, December 16). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWje_E6xqEs