Japanese superhero could save Hawaii tourism in new campaign

Photo: HT Japan
Photo: HT Japan

Hawaii tourism officials are hoping a new partnership with a popular superhero will bring more Japanese visitors to the islands.

The UltraHawaii campaign, which launched earlier this month, features Ultraman Taro, an alien superhero who defends Earth against evil aliens and monsters and his parents on a Hawaiian vacation. Some of the show’s villains also appear.

Tourism officials say this is the first time they’ve collaborated with a major Japanese character.

“Because the Japanese market is an extremely mature market, it was necessary to get the Hawaii message out in another way,” said Eric Takahata, managing director for HT Japan. “Using this very iconic character was a way to accomplish this.”

The web-based campaign features a series of vignettes that show the characters enjoying various activities around Hawaii, from surfing lessons and poolside yoga sessions to hula dancing and even horseback and ATV riding. The videos are distributed and promoted through major social media channels.

Takahata says officials had to get creative to promote Hawaii’s active lifestyle. “Hawaii has always marketed to certain lifestyle segments, which have proven to be successful in yielding quality visitors from Japan,” he said.

More than 50 tour wholesalers and industry partners are involved in UltraHawaii, including Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Three of the vignettes were shot on location at Hilton Waikoloa Village, and visitors are encouraged to collect stamps at both Hilton Waikoloa Village and Hilton Hawaiian Village to win limited-edition prizes.

“The island of Hawaii is well-known in the Japanese market, however the Japanese traveler doesn’t have as much knowledge about how to enjoy and relax at the resort besides shopping and going on tours,” said Megumi Haubner, Hilton’s regional manager for PR and marketing in Asia. “We hope to showcase a true resort stay by having Ultraman experience these moments, especially for those who’ve never been to Hawaii Island.”

Officials are hoping the campaign, which ends on Sept. 30, will bring in an extra 15,000 arrivals.

Click here to view all the videos from the UltraHawaii campaign.

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