Wednesday, August 14, 2013


In February 2011, a new Japanese bullet train (Shinkansen) was sent out on a two-hour test run. Word circulated that everyone was invited to show up along the route and wave. A camera was mounted to the train that would capture the event to use for a future commercial. A surprising 15,000 people showed up for the impromptu shoot, including firemen, students, Power Rangers, even a bride and groom, jubilantly waving with balloons, banners and flags.

On March 12, 2011, one day after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, the new bullet train was launched, on schedule. The planned ad spot, containing all the waving people footage was scrapped, deemed inappropriately happy in light of the massive loss of life, destruction, evacuation, and nuclear incidents. Instead, the ad was loaded onto YouTube, where it quickly went viral with millions of views. Images of excited, happy, playful, even silly people, along with the bullet train symbolizing Japan moving forward, was exactly what the recovering wanted and needed to see.

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