Ghibli's latest work "The Boy and the Heron”: successful advertising-free strategy

Ghibli's latest work "The Boy and the Heron”: successful advertising-free strategy

"The Boy and the Heron," Director Hayao Miyazaki's first feature film in 10 years, was released in July 2023. It attracted attention for its unconventional release, with no ads, previews, announcements for its casting, etc. We will investigate consumer behaviors surrounding Studio Ghibli's "The Boy and the Heron.”


"The Boy and the Heron" and its unconventional advertising-free strategy

"The Boy and the Heron" was released in theaters in Japan on July 14, 2023. It took on an unusual approach with no promotional videos, no big billboards, no flyers, and no introduction of the characters. The only "information” provided prior to the movie’s release was a picture of a mysterious bird and that it was a Studio Ghibli film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Without any information about the cast, it was quietly released as if it were some urban legend, and conversely, it attracted attention.

It seems that because there was so little information, many people turned to searching on the Internet. The graph below shows the changes in the number of people who searched for “The Boy and the Heron.” You can see that there was a sharp increase in July when the movie was released.

It is speculated that the increase in the number of people searching in December 2022 was due to the reports that it would be released in the summer and the introduction of the movie's thematic picture (only a picture of a bird). After the news coverage, there were no big advertisements whatsoever, so you can see that it was hardly searched until its release date.

Changes in the number of people searching “The Boy and the Heron”

Devices: PC, smartphone
Period: August 2022 – July 2023

What kind of people searched for “The Boy and the Heron”?

Next, let's look at the user attributes of people who searched for "The Boy and the Heron.”
As you can see in the graph below, for the male-to-female ratio, there are more females at 53.0%, and the age group is mostly in their 40s, but as one would expect, it seems that Ghibli movies are popular among different age groups, ranging from people in their 20s to their 50s.

User attributes of people searching “The Boy and the Heron”: by gender

Devices: PC, smartphone
Period: August 2022 – July 2023

User attributes of people searching “The Boy and the Heron”: by age group

Devices: PC, smartphone
Period: August 2022 – July 2023

What kind of information did people want to know about "The Boy and the Heron”?

Now, let's explore what kind of information people wanted to know about "The Boy and the Heron" based on the searched keyword combinations.

"Synopsis" ranked in No. 3. While there was no information, it seems that there were many users who wanted to know the general plot of the movie. What is worth paying attention to is "voice actor (4th place)" and "cast (7th place)." Every Ghibli movie is has used the voices of a star-studded cast, so it seems that expectations were high this time as well.

The cast was actually announced on the day the movie was released. It included famous people like Takuya Kimura, Masaki Suda, Aimyon, and other stars, causing the movie to attract attention once again.

“The Boy and the Heron”: keyword combinations

Devices: PC, smartphone
Period: August 2022 – July 2023

Predicting what kind of positioning it will take among Ghibli works

We have seen the tendencies of people searching for "The Boy and the Heron,” a movie riddled in mystery.
Next, we will predict what kind of positioning this film will take among the many Ghibli works.

First, let’s compare user attributes with those of other popular films.

People searching “The Boy and the Heron" are similar to "The Wind Rises" fans?

The graph below shows the user attributes of popular Ghibli works.
We covered the most recent work (released in 2013) "The Wind Rises," as well as films most frequently broadcasted on terrestrial TV "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (20 times)" and " Castle in the Sky (18 times)," and "My Neighbor Totoro (18 times)."

Looking at the share of gender and age groups, we can see that it is similar to the people who searched for “The Wind Rises.”

User attribute comparison of 5 Ghibli works: by gender

Devices: PC, smartphone
Period: August 2021 – July 2023

User attribute comparison of 5 Ghibli works: by age group

Devices: PC, smartphone
Period: August 2021 – July 2023

In fact, there are advertisements that seem unique to Ghibli...

“The Boy and the Heron” has attracted attention for its unusual advertising-free strategy, but did you know that a unique Ghibli advertisement was actually being executed on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter)?
It includes the "Use it freely within the bounds of common sense" series and the grey heron that cries (or says?), “Fraark! Fraark!”

The grey heron that suddenly appeared as the profile picture of Studio Ghibli’s official X (formerly Twitter) account and the illustration of Nausicaä was printed with the July 14 release date of “The Boy and the Heron." The grey heron has been frequently making an appearance ever since.

Studio Ghibli Official (@JP_GHIBLI)

Studio Ghibli Official (@JP_GHIBLI)

Grabbed the hearts of fans with human wave attack using X (formerly Twitter)

Let's analyze the effectiveness of the promotional activities on X (formerly Twitter).

The graph below shows the number of users on the Studio Ghibli official website and Studio Ghibli’s official X (formerly Twitter) page. We can see that both increased sharply in July 2023.

Changes in the number of visitors to Studio Ghibli’s official website and official X (formerly Twitter) page

Devices: PC, smartphone
Period: August 2022 – July 2023

In addition, the number of people visiting the official website via social media also increased significantly in July.
Ghibli’s official X platform (formerly Twitter) posts don't necessarily have a link to the official website, but still 90% of the social media traffic in July were from X (formerly Twitter).

Changes in the number of inflow sessions from social media to the official Studio Ghibli website

Devices: PC, smartphone
Period: August 2022 – July 2023

Social media traffic in July 2023

Devices: PC, smartphone
Period: July 2023

Summary

In this article, we explored how users reacted to the advertising-free strategy of “The Boy and the Heron,” Hayao Miyazaki's first feature film in 10 years.

How many users searched for "The Boy and the Heron"?

The number of people searching for “The Boy and the Heron” surged in July, when the movie was first released. We also found that there were almost no searches until the release date, as there were no big promotional activities whatsoever.

What are the user attributes of people who searched for "The Boy and the Heron"?

For the male-to-female ratio, more people were female at 53.0%, and although the majority of age groups are in their 40s, it seems that a wide range of users, ranging from their 20s to 50s, were interested. Also, from the user attribute pattern, it was found that users who searched for "The Boy and the Heron" are similar to the fans of "The Wind Rises.”

What is the trend in the number of visitors to the official Studio Ghibli website and its official X (formerly Twitter) page?

It was found that the number of visitors to the official Studio Ghibli website and official X (formerly Twitter) page increased sharply in July 2023 in proportion to the number of searches for "The Boy and the Heron.”

Unique Ghibli promotions using X (formerly Twitter) is also popular?

Using advertising unique to Ghibli by tailoring to Ghibli fans, like the grey heron that suddenly appeared in the profile picture of Studio Ghibli’s official X (former Twitter) page, contributed to the movie’s success. It turned out that 90% of the traffic to the official website via social media in July were from X (formerly Twitter).

About Dockpit

▼Data from Dockpit was used in this case study. Dockpit is an online behavior analytics tool provided by VALUES, Inc., and it allows you to access online behavioral data (updated monthly) via your browser so you can research competitor websites and investigate trends. There is a FREE version of Dockpit, so if you are interested in using it, please register below.

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※日本語での記事はこちらをご確認ください

ジブリ最新作『君たちはどう生きるか』宣伝なし戦略でユーザーはどう動いたかを調査

https://manamina.valuesccg.com/articles/2617

宮﨑駿監督10年ぶりとなる長編監督作品『君たちはどう生きるか』が、2023年7月に公開されました。この作品は宣伝や試写会、キャスト発表などを行わずに公開される異例のスタートとなったことでも話題になりました。 今回はジブリ最新作『君たちはどう生きるか』の宣伝なし戦略の中でユーザーがどのように動いたのか、インターネットでの行動ログから調査し、探っていきます。

この記事のライター

Born and raised in the Bay Area, U.S.A, I was fascinated by the different social and purchasing behaviors between Japanese and American consumers. I studied communication for undergrad and international marketing for my graduate studies. My professional background is in bilingual recruitment and Japanese-English translation.

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