Encounters with the master class
If someone told you about a German being interviewed on the streets of Tokyo by a Japanese TV-station about the German Football Cup victory of sports club Eintracht Frankfurt – you would say they’re probably joking.
Or they had too much sake… But that’s exactly what happened to FIFTYEIGHT CEO Marc on a visit to Japan in late May 2018.
The reason for this specific media interest:
A few days before, the captain of the Japanese soccer team, Makoto Hasebe, made a key contribution in finally winning Frankfurt the coveted title for the first time in over 30 years.
We expect the same kind of master talent from our German-Japanese distribution specialist Ken Jungnickel when it comes to spiking up sales of our TALENT and TASSEN cups in Japan.
By the way, Ken was brought on board last year during the Tokyo tradeshow by our FIFTYEIGHT confidant Jun. Together with CEO Max, Marc visited Japan this year after the successful 2017 tradeshow premiere to take in the sights and flavors of his beloved Tokyo.
Marc and Max – or in short “M&M” – also got to know Ken as the perfect example of the famous Japanese hospitality.
The absolute standout of the trip was an invitation to join Ken’s family in the town of Zushi, a small seaside community one hour outside of Tokyo. On that night, the entire town had gathered for a group picnic by the beach to take in a superlative over one-hour long (!) fireworks show over Japanese delicacies.
Then it was time to represent our brands at Tokyo Interior Lifestyle tradeshow from 30 May to 1 June. While the first one-and-a-half tradeshow days proved a bit tough goings, the number of visitors increased steadily. That’s perhaps because visitor patterns in Japan follow the exact opposite trajectory of those in Europe, where shows tend to be bustling on the first day only to drop off on the final days. Perhaps that’s because visitors in Japan also read the tradeshow itinerary from end to front? ;)
In the bigger picture, Max also noted a similarity between visitor influx and the overall Japanese market: “If you are out to make a few quick bucks, Japan is definitely the wrong place for you. Here it’s all about ‘long distance’ qualities – and fortunately that’s exactly what we have at FIFTYEIGHT.”
Even products like our TASSEN, which always tend to elicit a drawn out “Kawaii” (“cute”), are
no self-starters. “It takes far more work than elsewhere to get into business here, but we are not letting up,” said Max.
Max already formed strong ties to Japanese culture at an early age. One of his best friends at school – also named Ken, incidentally – enjoyed access through his mom to Japanese toys that were completely impossible to get in Germany at the time. And as it turns out, Ken is now Max’s brother in law. So whether or not Max just had a greedy eye on toys or not, it’s safe to say his connection to Japanese pop culture runs long and deep. You may also notice it in the TASSEN characters he designs at FIFTYEIGHT, with their oversized eyes and strong facial expressions.
So without putting too much pressure on our new distro specialist Ken, we have high hopes of getting our TASSEN cups into the Japanese master class right on time for this holiday season.
Just watch Makoto Hasebe for inspiration and you will make it!