Convenience-store chain 7-Eleven will feature a Japanime character, Domo, in an in-store program launching this month. The character's likeness -- think Tribble (for those who remember Tribbles from "Star Trek") with teeth and appendages -- will appear on collectible Slurpee cups and straws, coffee cups, hot dog containers, candy dispensers and merchandise. The effort includes a Fuji Frost by Fanta flavor and a "Domo Attack!" energy drink.
Evan Brody, marketing manager for Slurpee and Big Gulp beverages tells Marketing Daily that the Domo program -- intended to appeal to twenty-something and younger consumers -- is the first promotion for 7-Eleven to be based on a character that doesn't come from a major film, sports or entertainment property.
Domo and his hirsute pals began life as mascots for Japanese public television station NHK in 1998 -- but they have, per 7-Eleven, developed a following via social-media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Flickr.
"He's had quite an underground following for a while," says Brody of the Domo character. "He really hit the mainstream over the past year to two years; as far as age index, it's 16 to 24, which is the core for Slurpee, as well."
Brody says the idea to put Domo in 7-Eleven came through the chain's merchandising team. "They had been exploring opportunities, and we felt it made sense to do something much bigger with it."
The effort includes a three-part webisode, launching Oct. 1, at www.slurpee.com and www.domonation.com, that tells the story of Domo and his friends on a quest for a Slurpee beverage. Each of the 30-second segments will debut weekly on the two Web sites. The stop-action animated Domo video was created and produced exclusively for 7-Eleven by Dwarf inc., the Japanese animation company that originally created Domo.
Brody says the webisodes will be accompanied by banner ads, radio and outdoor media, including billboards and bus shelter advertising. Radio will be focused on the 99-cent coffee offer.
While the summer months generate the most sales volume for Slurpee, the frozen carbonated beverages sell well in fall and winter months, per Brody. "But we will ramp up hot coffee [elements of the Domo campaign], which will play a large role in the promotion as well," he says.
Collectibles for the program, which runs through mid-November, include Slurpee cups showing Domo and his sidekicks drinking Slurpee drinks, and Slurpee straws, selling for $1.99. Coffee cups and Big Bite hot dog containers will include Domo-themed art. Store signage promoting 7-Eleven's 99-cent coffee deal urges customers to "Obey the Domo."
A Domo candy display will put Snickers and Reeses candy bars in the open mouth of the character. Stores will also sell Domo DVDs, Domo miniature action figures in cup-like packaging, Domo Manga comic books, plush characters and apparel, like caps and T-shirts. Special-edition gift cards will bear Domo's likeness.
Big Tent Entertainment, the marketing and licensing company behind Domo, helped broker the deal with 7-Eleven, which has over 36,600 stores in 15 countries.