Kokoyakyu and a lesson for advertisers

I recently watched the documentary, Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball. Kokoyakyu is a serious deal in Japan, and players compete fiercely to win the National Championship. But their efforts are characterized by a respect I rarely see in American sports:

"Sport is like martial arts. We don't aim to expose our opponent's weaknesses but to exert our potential strengths. Our opponent is not the enemy."

(A Kokoyakyu coach made this comment...well, something very close to that. I scribbled it on scrap paper while watching the film.)

Too often, advertisers ignore the Kokoyakyu approach and take advantage of consumers' weaknesses and insecurities: Thinning hair never bother you before? Well, it should. And now that it does, here's a product to make it grow back. Or, Afraid to go to the beach in a bikini? Well, you should be. And now that you are, here's a product to reduce that belly pooch of yours.

This is a rather twisted way of "helping" consumers because it essentially demeans them - or at least exposes an already present weakness - and then offers hollow condolences. How kind.

Perhaps product bullies could learn a lesson or two from Kokoyakyu.

3 comments:

M.joshua October 15, 2008 at 5:02 PM  

I think this is the classic feud between Modernism and Postmodernism. Pomos completely love the idea of focusing on the potentials of growth without being manipulated with attacks on their deficiency. If evangelism was approached in a way that showed people how God is actually loving, they might not need reinforcement to tell them they're living in a pig sty.

Kokayaku theory applies to a more eastern mindset. The under-35 crowd is clearly adoptive to such movements.

Sam Van Eman October 15, 2008 at 7:34 PM  

I think I see what you're saying, Josh.

I've seen too many instances of evangelism ignoring the Kokoyakyu approach and instead seeing neighbors and co-workers as enemies whose worldview elements need to be exposed.

Not much love in that.

M.joshua October 16, 2008 at 9:14 AM  

yeah. Not to mention that "evangelism" is about "Good news", not necessarily bad news with a solution.

Consider Paul at Mars Hill in Acts 17. Does he speak to the error of their ways and provide a solution? Actually yeah, but he does it in a way of getting into their world first and assessing things from a reveal methodology.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I just thought I'd throw it out there.

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