Case Study

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AirJapan taps on AnyMind Group to maximize YouTube a year before launch to strengthen marketing efforts in Southeast Asia

AirJapan is the first overseas-targeted brand of ANA Group

AirJapan is the inaugural brand launched by ANA Holdings Group aimed at overseas markets, primarily targeting the Southeast Asian market. Commencing operations in February 2024 with flights to Thailand and South Korea, followed by Singapore in April 2024, AirJapan has strategically engaged in global marketing initiatives, leveraging social media platforms like YouTube and partnering with AnyMind over a year prior to service commencement. The company is not restricting itself to content around its own services but is also creating and disseminating content that conveys a wide range of Japan’s attractions.

We wanted to learn more about their marketing strategy and spoke to them – here’s what they shared!

AirJapan official website

Official YouTube channel “AirJapan Journey”

Interviewee profile

Takahiro Ezaki

AirJapan General Manager, Corporate Planning Department

Mr. Ezaki has been in charge of business strategy at ANA and group LCCs, and has also been involved in public relations and investor relations.

Yumi Nakashima

AirJapan Staff Advisor, Marketing Department

Ms. Nakashima joined Air Japan in 2020 as Chief Purser for international flights, and moved to the Corporate Planning Department in 2022, where she was involved in the launch of the AirJapan brand. Currently, she is in charge of official social media and sales promotion for AirJapan’s Singapore route, based in the Marketing Department.

Bringing the Charm of Japan to the World: Experiencing Japan from Inside the Aircraft

Please tell us about your company, brand and services

Our company was founded in 1990 as an operator of international charter flights for the ANA Group. Since rebranding to AirJapan Co., Ltd. in 2000, we have contributed to the expansion of the ANA Group’s international flight business in a “behind-the-scenes” role, mainly as an operator of scheduled international passenger flights. Drawing upon our experience and expertise in operating under the ANA brand, we launched ‘AirJapan’ as the third brand under the ANA Group in February 2024.

The widespread outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent border closures in 2020 has had a significant impact on the aviation industry. In formulating new growth strategies for a post-pandemic world, we recognized the need to adapt to the evolving demands of air travel. To encourage more seamless travel experiences crossing borders, we proposed a new style of service that is neither a Full-Service Carrier (FSC) nor a Low-Cost Carrier (LCC), so that passengers can enjoy cross-border travel more easily.

The AirJapan brand, as well as the colors and in-flight background music, all have a distinctly Japanese feel to them.

The brand colors are traditional Japanese colors, indigo blue and akebono (dawn red). The in-flight music was also born through collaboration between our company and Tokyo University of the Arts. The concept is to warmly welcome passengers into the aircraft with sounds that evoke memories and experiences of Japan, such as the shakuhachi (bamboo flute) and koto (Japanese stringed instrument).

AirJapan is the first brand launched by the ANA Group targeting overseas markets, with a focus on tourists from Southeast Asia visiting Japan. We are committed to providing services and interiors that allow these tourists to feel the ‘Japanese-ness’ using all five senses, from the moment they board the aircraft.

Being a brand targeting overseas markets, what were the initial steps taken in terms of branding and marketing strategy for international markets?

The branding concept, logo, and colors for AirJapan were finalized in March 2022. Following the establishment of these concepts, we began considering marketing strategies utilizing platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. In September that year, we started our YouTube channel. At that time, as our flights to Thailand were planned, we chose Facebook for its high usage in Thailand and YouTube for its ability to visually convey more information through video content than text.

Our initial focus was on increasing awareness of the AirJapan brand and inspiring people to think, ‘I want to visit Japan someday!’ To achieve this, we decided to create videos introducing tourist destinations and culture in Japan. Initially, we showcased tourist spots near Tokyo such as Kamakura, Asakusa, and Shibuya. However, we felt that if people were visiting Japan, they should explore beyond Tokyo and discover more of Japan’s charms. Therefore, we started collaborating with local governments in regions like Ibaraki, Niigata, and Gunma, which can be reached within a few hours from Narita Airport, to produce videos and provide opportunities for visitors to learn more about Japan’s attractions.

Through these collaborations, we were able to incorporate unique information and insights not found in guidebooks or on the internet. Additionally, this collaboration led to valuable discussions on how local governments can improve their offerings for foreign tourists when they visit.

【Vol1:Kamakura】Sightseeing with a flight attendant from AirJapan【1DAY-Sightseeing】

Enjoy Various Carrot Dishes in Tsunan Town! [1-Day Sightseeing]

Are these videos planned and produced by the marketing department?

Although the marketing department is primarily responsible, we also have a social media project team comprised of flight attendants who expressed interest in video production. From planning to content creation, filming, and acting, they collaborated on various aspects. Ideas for projects such as introduction videos of Kawagoe, Saitama, and panel discussions were created, utilizing the voices of these team members. Flight attendants who appear in the videos are sometimes recognized by customers, who might say: “You were in that video, right? Let’s take a photo together!”

[Vlog] I went on a one-day trip to Kawagoe, Koedo, to feel the history of Japan with Thai guests.

The First Panel Discussion by AirJapan Cabin Crew!

The aircraft painting video has reached 90,000 views, the biggest buzz in our channel’s history!

Were there any challenges encountered in video production and YouTube operations?

As it was our first time producing videos and managing YouTube, we encountered many unknowns. However, as we received feedback and advice from AnyMind, alongside various metrics such as channel subscribers and view counts, we gradually grew in our expertise and capabilities.

In the beginning, we included a video digest at the beginning of our videos. We thought it would help viewers imagine what the video is about, but we were surprised when AnyMind gave us feedback that ‘the dropout rate at the video digest is high.’ Since then, we have been making adjustments, such as shortening the duration of the digest and adding more impactful scenes.

Feedback from AnyMind’s team in Southeast Asia was also valuable. They provided detailed feedback on what Southeast Asian viewers might be interested in when watching the videos. For example, in food exploration videos at tourist destinations, we received feedback that viewers would like to see the location of the shops on a map, so we promptly incorporated this into our subsequent videos.

As you made more and more videos, you must have gradually felt a positive response. What was the most memorable video or turning point for you?

When we first launched the channel, the details of our services such as flight destinations were not yet finalized. However, as the company and service details became clearer over time, we made it a point to release related videos simultaneously with announced information. For example, we coordinated the release of videos to coincide with press releases about in-flight meals and uniforms. It was rewarding to see that people were interested in our company and services and were watching our videos.

The video that received the most response was the aircraft painting video. This video holds a special place in our hearts as it was created not only by the social media team but also by the involvement of the entire ANA Group. Since the painting was done in the middle of the night, the team of ANA mechanics who cooperated in filming this time were willing to shoot in the middle of the night. The maintenance team made various suggestions such as: “We thought it would be a good idea to include a scene where the interior is being changed!” I think this kind of scene is very rare and valuable footage that you can’t see in other videos. It is very impressive that the video, which was completed with the help of ideas and cooperation from within the company, became the most popular video in the channel’s history.

[February 9th launch] Watch the Making of AirJapan’s Brand-Colored Aircraft!

Flights to South Korea and Singapore have also started, in addition to Thailand. Please share your outlook and thoughts on future marketing initiatives.

We have been repurposing videos previously uploaded on YouTube and making them available on board as well. One of the menu items available for purchase on board is called Tsunan’s Snow-Drop Carrot Juice. This juice is made from snow-drop carrots, a specialty product of Tsunan Town in Niigata Prefecture, and we have a video introducing these carrots. I believe that enjoying the snow-drop carrot juice while watching this video can make it taste even more special. Moreover, after returning home, passengers can share their experience with their families by saying: “I drank this carrot juice!” while watching the video on YouTube. By connecting YouTube content to all stages of the flight: before, during, and after boarding, we believe we can deliver a better experience.

Furthermore, we are analyzing which social media platforms and content are most effective in each country. In addition to Facebook and YouTube, we plan to utilize Instagram in the future. We will continue to focus on disseminating information that makes people think: “I want to travel to Japan on AirJapan!”

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