Although Japan remains one of the world’s largest mobile phone markets, mobile marketing itself has yet to take root there as it has elsewhere, particularly throughout North America and Europe.
On Saturday, however, Disney launched a new mobile phone service in Japan, a nation of 127 million people with more than 100 million mobile phones in operation. The local unit of Walt Disney Co. known as Walt Disney Japan introduced three customized mobile phones made by Sharp. Each is made in the silhouette pattern of Mickey Mouse.
Mobile marketing factors into the launch as the phones are tailored to a special online feature that allows subscribers to visit Disney websites, while Disney’s iconic characters can be used on standby screens and to decorate e-mails without additional charge.
To help guide the launch, Walt Disney Japan joined forces with Softbank, an Internet conglomerate and one of Japan’s three largest mobile firms. As a result, Disney has become Japan’s foremost mobile virtual network operator.
In the states, Disney Mobile has been presented as a family-friendly mobile phone service that emphasizes family togetherness and tries to instill the warm fuzzy feelings common to Disney in the typical mobile phone experience. Similarly, Walt Disney Japan is banking on mobile marketing to better promote the magical kingdom in Japan, where Tokyo Disneyland receives tens of millions of visitors every year.
Whether or not Disney’s mobile marketing scheme is too “goofy” to succeed will be apparent in the coming months, as Walt Disney Japan presently stands poised to aggressively pursue mobile marketing as a leading mechanism for driving new as well as repeat visitors to Tokyo Disneyland.