Nissin Cup Noodles collaborated with Bandai Namco to promote the highly-anticipated game Jump Force. It’s not the first time the popular noodle brand partnered with a video game creator. Last year, Nissin Cup Noodles did a similar campaign teaming up with Square Enix to promote Dissidia Final Fantasy NT ahead of its release on PlayStation 4. At that point, it was the first time the brand’s U.S. division partnered with a gaming company to promote their product.
The noodle brand distributed specially-marked packs featuring characters from the game. The packaging had codes for “exclusive in-game downloadable content.” After purchasing a special edition Cup Noodle, fans had to take a picture of their receipt and text it to the number on the package.
The process is the same for the Jump Force sweepstakes, but instead of getting content, consumers can win a trip to Tokyo, Japan and receive tickets to the Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama.
This is an example of how more non-gaming brands are collaborating with gaming companies. And it must be working.
Gamers are very attractive to marketers because of the high amount of engagement the content demands and the diversity of the platforms.
The company has in the past been fairly involved in eSports. A few years ago, Cup Noodles sponsored a local eSports tournament in Southern California.
To get a little deeper on their strategies, AList spoke to Jaclyn Park, vice president of marketing at Nissin Foods US, about the Jump Force collaboration and their fan store.
Why did you decide to collaborate with Jump Force? What made you want to do the sweepstakes to travel to Japan?
We really know and believe in the natural connection that gaming fans have with Cup Noodles. It’s something that we’ve seen in consumer research as well as our interactions with consumers in the market place. What we hear is Cup Noodles is the perfect gaming food because it’s delicious, warm and satisfying and you can put it down and play your game and pick it up and it’s still hot. It also doesn’t get your fingers messy.
I do think that the roots of Cup Noodles in Japan give it a culture connection and the top video games companies come out of there. We have always had this belief that’s been solidified to what we see on the market about the natural connection between Cup Noodles and gaming.
Last year, was the first time we acted on it in a big way with our first on-pack promotion. We were thrilled to find the opportunity with the new game, Jump Force, which is a great game that again has that cultural connection to Japan.
We feel like, with our roots in Japan, it was just a nice way to bring our love of all things Japanese together into a really fun on-pack promotion.
Has the Nissin Cup Noodle Japan been working with gaming companies for a long time?
Yes, there is a character in one of the Final Fantasy games that actually wears a Cup Noodles hat and it is something that came about through those connections and friendships that was built up between the two companies in Japan.
How was the response been in the US with the partnership you did last year?
We thought that the response was great. We did it on millions of packages and we collected a lot of responses especially from the social media space. We were thrilled to see people posting photos of the packages on shelves with the Dissidia Final Fantasy characters on them.
People were super excited, there were some really funny photos of people clearing out the shelves. The Cup Noodles packages were treated almost as collectibles and we think that is a lot of fun. We enjoyed seeing people get so excited about these kinds of partnership.
We really felt like we were on to something, so we felt very confident exploring something in the same vein, but a little bit different this year.
Which social media site was the most popular in showcasing these cups?
Actually, with the hardcore gamers, Twitter is really their go-to social media site, but Instagram is definitely the most visually-oriented, obviously.
These were two sites on which we saw the most traction—kind of the breaking news, the “oh my Gosh, I found this Cup Noodles on the shelf, I can’t believe it! Am I really seeing this?” We saw a lot of that on Twitter because it’s just kind of the platform that lends itself to that. But a lot of the visuals, we also saw a lot of cross-posting as well.
People are just aren’t on one social media platform, but Twitter is the one it seems to be really big for the gamers. And then for people who really like to curate and present visually-arresting images, of course, Instagram is always a good place.
How did the partnership with Bandai Namco begin?
The Bandai Namco partnership did not start in Japan, so it wasn’t our Japanese counterparts coming together. It was started in the US, in Los Angeles, they have an office in northern California.
We have the connections to the gaming world through some other partners we work with, specifically our agency. Once the news and the word of our Dissidia partnership came out last year, gaming companies took notice.
There was an interest in Bandai Namco’s part based on the new game they knew they were working on and once they layered in the Japanese connection and their connection to anime, which our fans also appreciate—we were in.
Have people already been submitting photos?
Yes, we’ve already seen some photos that were really fun. I actually just put a Power Point together of the screen grabs for internal use to share the world with our people here. It’s been fun.
My favorite so far has been the completely emptied out shelf at a local grocery store with only one left. Just one lone cup left. The person who posted said that they had to put [the one they got] back there, just to take a picture. We’ve gotten hundreds in just a few days.
There is still time—until June 30—so we encourage everyone to enter and you can enter more than once.
Now let’s dive into the fan store. Why did Nissin Cup Noodles want to get into the e-commerce world? How have consumers reacted?
The reason why we wanted to get into e-commerce is that we wanted to share the love of the brand we were already seeing in the market place. The marketing team would go the events and we were fortunate enough to have Cup Noodles t-shirts, or Cup Noodles hats, so we could show our pride and our love for the brand. We would always have consumers at the event asking “Hey, where can I buy that shirt, where can I buy that hat? Do you sell that shirt? Can I have that shirt?”
We started giving away the items at events, but we had very small quantities, and we decided to ramp it up and bring the items to a bigger audience. There is a lot of untapped love for these brands. It’s just the feeling of nostalgia and comfort everybody knows Cup Noodles and Top Ramen, and more times than not, there are brands that bring a smile to your face, just because memory you have associated with those brands.
We started small on National Noodle Day and we ramped up a bit for the holidays with some new items, like wrapping paper. It’s actually going pretty well and when we launched in October it helped that we had some Cup Noodles costumes—those were a big hit.
Other than the adult costumes, the stickers and mugs have been the most popular.
Who usually the buys the merchandise?
We don’t collect of demographic info on our buyers because of privacy reasons. We do know that they are our fans, but everybody loves ramen and Cup Noodles, so it’s not just gamers.
But we do have some fun ideas that are the most appealing to especially the gamers. I know that a lot of people who follow us on social media and see the announcements on our social media platforms, like what is new in our fans stores and we allow people to easily click over.
We know that there are the fans that know and love us and we appreciate when they spread the word. They do a really good job with that.
Do you think Cup Noodles will continue to work with video game companies throughout the year and in the future?
I think our interest in gaming and tapping into our natural connection to gamers and how much they love us is absolutely something we’re continuing to pursue. It would be foolish of us not to. And also, why wouldn’t we want to celebrate the people who have such a great love for us? We are always looking for opportunities in this space.