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Noticia
 el 20 Oct 2008 por Marta Reig

Tarako Kewpie

This round-shaped red doll has become a mass phenomenon in Japan. It’s not a toy; it’s part of the brand image for a codfish roe sauce

The Kewpie doll disguised as a codfish egg
The Kewpie doll disguised as a codfish egg
The Kewpie doll disguised as a codfish egg The Tarako mug Tarako picnic place settings Tarako plastic bag
It is difficult to market a food as visually unattractive as codfish eggs. It may seem easier to disguise its appearance so as not to provoke the prospective consumer’s rejection. But things in Japan work the other way around. Codfish eggs are unpleasant, are they? “Well, we’ll play them up and even give them a personality.”

This is what the creative team behind the campaign for Kewpie brand codfish roe sauce must have thought. For years, this food industry brand’s corporate image and mascot has been a rubber doll named Kewpie Doll that was created at the start of the 20th Century. What did the Japanese do to promote Kewpie’s codfish roe? As tradition would have it, they used this rubber doll, only this time they disguised it as a codfish egg by enveloping it in a soft, red, sleeping bag style wrapper. The result is an adorable and well-rounded little red doll called Tarako, which means codfish eggs in Japanese.

In order to promote the sauce, they got a a group of Japanese girls between the ages of 11 and 13, now known as the Tarako Girls, to shoot a music video ad wearing little red hats while flailing their arms and legs erratically to the rhythm of the music, as you can see in the video.

They say the phenomenon took off as a result of this ad, since it was a catchy though not excessively tasteless song. The Tarako Girls became famous, they put out an album, and it’s possible to predict that they will be living off the codfish egg phenomenon for many years.

Who knows whether the Kewpie company will triumph in the sauce market with their red roe? That doesn’t even matter, because the Tarako doll has given them enormous publicity. Not to mentionall the products this Tarako fever has given rise to, now sold on the Japanese web site: mugs, T-shirts, cell phone charms, handbags, pins, cutlery... You name it; they sell it.



Thanks to bloggers, the phenomenon has spread throughout the world quickly, just do a Google search on Tarako and you’ll get an idea of its popularity. You can find Lego pieces disguised as Tarako, web sites to order your own customized Tarako, links to download the tune on your cell phone and YouTube videos where the more diehard fans have taped themselves imitating the Tarako Girls.

It’s highly unlikely that a sauce made out of codfish eggs will triumph in Spain. However, the little red doll is now available in more sophisticated shops.
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