Good partnerships are “a little bit more art than science,” says Nissin Foods director of marketing Gary Lai, explaining the company’s packaging promotion that bonds the Top Ramen brand with Sanrio’s Lazy Egg character Gudetama.
The image of Gudetama—a character known for his Japanese aesthetic and apathetic “meh” attitude—on packages of Nissin's Top Ramen chicken and soy sauce products is a nod to the common practice of combining ramen and eggs in a meal.
“For me, a successful partnership is that eagerness for both companies to create what I call a unicorn. It creates something different together that you can’t do alone. It’s not just about paying a license fee, slapping an image on our product and calling it done,” says Lai.
Top Ramen has released five short videos across its Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels showing Gudetama interacting with Top Ramen noodles. Sanrio—the Japanese company whose Hello Kitty and other characters adorn products from stationery to school supplies—will populate its social channels with the videos as well.
In one spot, an egg is cracked open and out comes Gudetama, falling into a bowl of Top Ramen as the voiceover notes that Top Ramen no longer contains MSG. Reclining on the noodles, Gudetama says, “Less is always better.” In another spot, the egg character is lying face-down with his butt on full display. “Oh, no…is my sunny side showing?”
The genesis of the partnership emerged in brainstorming sessions with Nissin’s agency, California-based High Wide & Handsome. “They understood that [Gudetama] character right away and that helped to make this process pretty seamless and easy,” Lai says.
He describes Sanrio as “an eager partner that got it. When we started making creative assets, the approval process was a dream. They were basically approving the first drafts of everything we were doing.”
In a statement, Sanrio director of brand marketing Susan Tran says, “We know that Gudetama's fans have a strong interest in Japanese food, particularly ramen, which created a seamless cross-over with the Top Ramen brand.”
Nissin will release Gudetama-inspired merchandise on its e-commerce store later this Spring.
According to Lai, dollar sales of Top Ramen products grew just over 9% in 2019.