Yorushika: A Story of Effortless Marketing
October 25, 2022
By: Michael Sun
I want, for a second, to bring up some of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time. Think Nike, which launched its “Just do it.” campaign in 1988 and has since become the poster child of iconic campaigns. It has crafted the brand of Nike into more than a clothing company: the orange swish now represents a call to action, motivation for the consumer to reach greater heights. Or perhaps we could talk about Old Spice’s trendy and humorous ads that encouraged viewers to “be more manly”.
My point in bringing up these campaigns is that they all exemplify the industry-wide philosophy of consumer-centric marketing. Brands identify the needs and wants of customers, and position themselves as a means to satisfy or enhance them. And it’s hard— there’s a reason why billion-dollar companies still fail marketing campaigns, despite the countless amount of money, hours, and experience at their disposal. Naturally, one must dedicate a lot of time and effort to successfully sell oneself, right?
Yorushika is a Japanese pop-rock duo composed of n-buna (producer, songwriter) and suis (vocalist). Debuting in 2017, they quickly gained traction and have won multiple awards for their work. For many, the Yorushika experience is synonymous with a deep dive into the human condition; n-buna is a storyteller who shapes every song to delve into life, love, and youth. The lyrics are written before the melodies, the albums are crafted to fit specific narratives, and accompanying stories are released to flesh out the experience. The albums Elma and That’s Why I Gave Up on Music tell of opposing viewpoints in a tragic love story, while Plagiarism is about a self-proclaimed “music thief” and is filled with samples from other songs. Yorushika knows what it feels like to truly live, and puts those bittersweet sentiments into poignant song and prose.
But Yorushika does not care for marketing. It’s not that they don’t do marketing, they just don’t bother to go out of their way to attract an audience. Nobody knows what they look like. They don’t do promotions outside of their Twitter and occasional pop-up interviews. To this date, they’ve only had three concerts. At its core, Yorushika is self-fulfillment. N-buna admits he only writes songs for himself. Every album is merely a product of his own mind, a story or idea that has piqued his interest and nothing more. Should there be no audience for his work, he would nevertheless create and release it.
Courtesy of Yorushika, “Rain with Cappuccino/雨とカプチーノ” (2019)
As a result, it is almost absurd to think of Yorushika’s immense success. People spend their entire lives dedicated to helping companies market themselves, and yet Yorushika is effortlessly able to reach their audience with literally no intention to do so. Most of their merchandise is sold out. The tickets for their few concerts are snatched up immediately. They’ve been branded as one of the headliners in a new generation of Japanese musicians.
Yes, n-buna disregards his audience when he writes. But when the focus of his work is something so critically human, it resonates with people regardless of how little he markets it. A company such as Brita, for example, has trouble selling its water filters for it fails to position the product as something that a consumer would actually want. But when suis rhetorically asks if it’s “selfish to just want to look at the blue sky?”, Yorushika intuitively connects with the audience. After all, Existential crises are universal, but water filters are not.
This concept of universality is used quite often in marketing. Coca-cola’s “Coke for Everyone” campaign gives the soft drink the same appeal as Yorushika. The drink is framed as a ubiquitous part of society. It’s for the strong, the weak, the farmers, and the businessmen. It reminds you of your childhood, cracking open an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day. While the memory of having a soda perhaps may not be meaningful for everyone, the sense of community and nostalgia is.
In particular, Yorushika’s music resonates with Japanese youth, which makes up the largest portion of their audience. It’s not hard to see why. “Hitchcock” is about searching for a purpose in life, and “Spring Thief” reminisces about past loves that bloomed with the fading of Winter. The duo even ended up becoming TikTok famous after their song “Just a Sunny Day for You” went viral among Japanese students for its bittersweet lyrics about growing up and remembering the summers of the past.
(Translated) English Lyrics from Just a Sunny Day for You/ただ君に晴れ
Courtesy of Yorushika
Some could say that Yorushika’s philosophy is rather arrogant: one misstep, one bad album, and people will lose interest in the duo. But is that really true when their inherent allure is in the content they create? If anything, their brand of marketing is simply a challenge to n-buna and suis to continue producing works that they themselves find meaningful, for an audience will surely be able to connect with them. Besides, is it not permissible to simply enjoy one’s work, doing first and foremost what touches their hearts? After all, Yorushika says it best:
“Let's enjoy it as much as we can!
If it's so hard you could die, let's just run away
After a few years, I'm sure no one will remember
Let's sing our hearts out!”
- “Bremen” by Yorushika (2022)
Michael Sun is a sophomore at Stern, studying Marketing/Finance and minoring in Environmental Studies. He likes writing niche analytical essays to procrastinate school work. Stay tuned for more exciting blogs from the Content Committee!