Japan’s branch of pizza chain Domino’s brought its collaboration with Hatsune Miku to a fevered pitch last weekend by launching a special retail campaign featuring Miku, coinciding with Miku Day. They introduced a new Miku-themed pizza ordering app for iOS, along with a demonstration video featuring CEO of Domino’s Pizza Japan Scott Oelker talking in English about the overall collaboration with Hatsune Miku and showing off the app. The video had gone viral, hitting over half a million views and spawning many derivative works. The app, in addition to allowing the user to order pizzas from Domino’s in Japan, has a “Miku Park” section which allows the user to take a photo and insert Miku (rendered from a 3D model originally made by Mamama) in various poses with various facial expressions. This section also includes a “Pizza Stage Live” function, where the user can point the camera at the top of a special Miku-themed Domino’s pizza box and have Miku performing and dancing “Luv 4 Night” on it using augmented reality technology. These special pizza boxes and Miku-decorated delivery vehicles were all part of the campaign, and for the first four days, the app contained a coupon that enabled the purchaser to get 39% off the price of orders. A recent article on ASCII.jp features photos of the various Miku-related items as well as an interview with this campaign’s project lead Karasawa, who noted that demand for the pizza boxes and sales had far exceeded expectations.
According to the interview, this entire collaboration with Miku came about because Domino’s wanted to reach out to younger people, partly due to its relatively poorer performance in that demographic. Domino’s thought that introducing a character would be effective and decided that Hatsune Miku would be top class, “being a ‘princess’, after all.” The pizza company had for a long time tried to figure out how to promote web ordering to Internet users and figured that character originally made famous on niconico would be a great candidate.
When asked about why Domino’s didn’t just do a normal character promotion with Miku, instead opting to make songs with her. Karasawa replied that it wouldn’t be interesting if they simply bought a license to use her to advertise, noting with a chuckle that people wouldn’t be too happy if they had seemingly “bought everyone’s diva.” Although most people at the company thirty and over don’t really know about Hatsune Miku, a lot of the front line workers and part-timers were in their late teens and twenties. After looking for company workers to make VOCALOID songs, they received a huge response. And with that, they were able to get cozy with other VOCALOID producers and fans of Miku. All in all, they made ten songs with Miku.
According to Karasawa, they had started working on this collaboration since last May, starting with discussions with Crypton Future Media. Even though making VOCALOID songs would get people talking about Domino’s, it wouldn’t directly translate into sales. Thus, they figured that maybe this spring they could change that, and hence settled on Miku Day.
The Miku Domino’s app enabled customers to get a pizza placed in a special Miku-themed box and delivered to them, and they totally underestimated the number of boxes they would need in advance. In some stores, they received over ten times the number of projected ordrers, and they’re currently feverishly working to make more boxes. Some stores are already out of Miku boxes, and they hope to get more stock in by March 20. In addition to special pizza boxes, there are also specially decorated Miku delivery vehicles (limited to Tokyo only) that are projected to run through this autumn. Unsurprisingly, the most popular delivery destination was the center of otaku culture, Akihabara in Tokyo.
As for the app, Domino’s has had a pizza ordering app for about three years now, and it was only until this January did they start working on a Miku-themed one. The biggest hurdle in making the app was supposedly making Miku’s movements look natural. The costumes and choreography were all created by Domino’s staff. Working on the collaboration involved many people, some of them still attending school, so the entire process was kind of chaotic with lots of amateurs in the mix. At this point, Karasawa also admitted liking VOCALOID music and had also made a song as well in the collaboration. He also pointed out that originally they had this idea for an AR app where Miku would come deliver pizza to people in the middle of flower viewing, but they didn’t have the time to make that happen.
Although Domino’s staff designed the costumes for the 3D model used in Domino’s app, the original model was actually made by Mamama, whose GUMI MikuMikuDance model is also extremely well known. This Miku model, named “Mamama-style AppyMiku” or “Appearance Miku” was first used at a series of short concerts held in Hakkeijima back in September of last year. The concerts were titled “ANGEL Project presents HATSUNE Appearance”, hence the name of the model. Another MMD creator, Alan Smithee, provided the physics for the model, and the model is currently available on PIAPRO for people to use in MMD. The Domino’s version of the model additionally credits producers HARDLOVE and okp.
In closing, the interviewer asked if everyone who came delivering pizzas in the special Miku delivery vehicles would also be donned up like Miku. Karasawa said they originally considered it but ended up scrapping it. “Besides, it would be quite dangerous to get twin tails jammed in the tires.” He then asked everyone to enjoy the collaboration and to make sure to order lots of pizzas with Miku.