In Japan, until the late 1950s, soy sauce was usually sold in large 2-liter glass bottles. At home, people would have to pour it into small pitchers to use it as a condiment at the table. That process was awkward, and the pitchers would inevitably drip and make a mess at the table.
Kikkoman set out to create a modern solution to this centuries-old problem—a reusable, dripless dispenser bottle that would make life easier for consumers—and the company hired a young industrial designer, Kenji Ekuan, to take on the challenge of designing it. Over the course of three years, Ekuan and his team developed nearly 100 prototypes until they finally found the solution: a perfectly balanced bell-shaped bottle with a flared opening that was easy to refill and a signature red cap with two spouts (one for soy sauce to pour out of, the other for air intake) that created a smooth, steady pour and put an end to the problem of dripping forever.
The Kikkoman dispenser bottle debuted in 1961 and went on to sell in the hundreds of millions. Its simple, minimalist design is so perfect, it has remained unchanged for the last 60 years—and so revered, it even found a place in the permanent collection of New York’s MoMA.
With 2021 marking 60 years of the teardrop dispenser, Kikkoman aimed to celebrate the beauty and heritage of its icon in a way that educated and engaged fans.
Our primary objective was to drive excitement around the anniversary, building brand awareness as well as engagement through user generated content in the social space. Target audience data informed us of their interest in design, which lead to the desire to create a design contest we know our existing and potential fans would likely engage in. To activate this, we created a design contest challenging fans to create their version of the teardrop dispenser in the medium of choosing for the chance to win a prize of $5,000. Entrants could submit via Instagram or via direct upload on the contest microsite. But how did we create awareness for the contest and then, arguably the hardest part, get people to participate?
Using a three-pronged approach of organic social, paid social, and influencers was the key to driving contest awareness and submissions.
From an organic and paid social standpoint, we utilized a tiered approach to continually build excitement and participation at every stage, from campaign seeding to driving entries, and then ultimately encouraging consumers to vote on their favorite entries.
For this campaign, finding the right influencers was essential to success. Rather than leveraging expected food influencers, we tapped design influencers to create their version of the teardrop bottle, from digital art to physical, even food art. This helped us tap into innovative creators, connecting Kikkoman to design culture and ultimately driving contest entries. Whitelisting their organic content allowed us to reach beyond their organic audience and ensure we were hitting our older Gen Z and Millennial art community and Kikkoman fan targets with key messaging points.
Despite the high barrier to entry, we saw 787 total entries from consumers submitted across Instagram and the microsite. These entries were incredibly impressive with some fans leaning into our Japanese heritage, using mixed materials like wood carving, and one even creating their entry using Kikkoman Soy Sauce as their paint on a canvas. The creativity of our community was astounding. From there, we narrowed it down to a top 6 and fans had the chance to vote for their favorite. Fans were further incentivized to participate in voting with the chance to be randomly selected to win a branded prize pack.
The campaign achieved a total of 3,578 contest registrations with 787 entries. Social amplification reached a total of 5.5M impressions, 67K clicks and 955K engagements, ultimately driving brand conversation, relevance and affinity.
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