The Road to success of KUMAMON

Profile of KUMAMON

KUMAMON is an official mascot created in 2010 by Kumamoto Prefecture of Japan. Its characters are naughty and stubborn. Moreover, it also takes a post of Kumamoto Prefecture’s sales director in order to attract the tourists to travel to Kyushu region after the Kyushu Shinkansen line opened.

Strategy of KUMAMON

  1. As a sales director, KUMAMON has a duty to collaborate with
  2. well – known brands such as Pocky, Potato Chips, and Calbee etc. by using local product or raw material from Kumamoto for example: product from milk, orange, strawberry and seaweed, etc.
  3. brands such as Teddy Bear (Teddy Bear KUMAMON by Steiff) and also foreign brand such as BMW Mini (Mini KUMAMON), KUMAMON camera by Leica and BACCARAT (KUMAMON Baccarat Ornament Limited Crystal) etc.
  4. In Japan, KUMAMON Brand can be used with free licensing to anyone as long as they get a permission and their products promote goods and services from Kumamoto Prefecture.

Firstly, the brand used KUMAMON to illustrate in Kumamoto only, then expanded to other provinces in Japan that made KUMAMON popular throughout the country.

On the other hand, foreign companies who want to use KUMAMON illustrate, they must pay for the license. The prefecture is aiming to expand KUMAMON to be recognized around the world.

  1. KUMAMON’s character

KUMAMON is a sale director who bringing happiness to public and people. KUMAMON shown up at several places such as nursing homes, emergency shelters and kindergartens, etc.

This strategy started in 2016 after the great earthquake in Kumamoto in order to support the victim of the disaster. Its last show up was on May 5, 2019 which was the children day in Japan.

The outcome of creating KUMAMON character

The revenue of Kumamoto prefecture is increasing to 150 Billion JPY from selling illustrate of KUMAMON. The number of visitors to the region is up 12% since 2010.

Analysis and conclusion

  1. KUMAMON Character planning

KUMAMON has a character to be helpful and supportive to people and public which comes from the understanding of the Prefecture’s Board of Directors. The Kumamoto Prefecture Board of Directors fully supports in promoting KUMAMON so that the KUMAMON business team is highly dedicated to work and does not afraid in making a mistake.

  1. KUMAMON itself is accessible to people of all ages.
  2. KUMAMON does a publication in Social Media.

KUMAMON publicize in social media by creating KUMAMON accounts, at present KUMAMON has more than 800,000 Twitter followers and on his Facebook Page has almost 180,000 likes. In addition, they began uploading YouTube since 2018.

The report on “Hate Speech in Southeast Asia: New Forms, Old Rules

The Thai Media Fund supports Asia Centre in doing a report “Hate Speech in Southeast Asia: New Forms, Old Rules,” which is one of the projects under the 2019 Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between Thai Media Fund and Asia Centre. 

The report describes the status quo and current issues leading to discrimination, violence, and communal strife in the region. It examines the legal framework, in particular, a slew of “harmony” bills aimed at securing social, racial or religious harmony as well as non – legal measures to foster social cohesion, interfaith dialogues, and social harmony. 

It also evaluates states in Southeast Asia that signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The study recommends a range of measures to alleviate the challenges arising from hate speech. Among them is a primary recommendation to officially recognize newer forms of hate speech and a set of secondary recommendations to promote understanding and diversity. 

TMF strongly supports and promotes digital and media literacy in Thai society with the aim to accomplish its vision which is “People can access, understand and be able to use media wisely, safely and constructively within a good media ecosystem”.

Journalism, “Fake News” and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training

In 2018, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has launched Journalism, “Fake News” and Disinformation Handbook.

The Journalism, “Fake News” and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training is written by experts from around the globe. This handbook comprises the inquiry framework, case studies and 7 modules with the aim to provide the tools for the readers to navigate through the increasingly murky information environment.

The handbook was translated in Thai by the support of the Government Public Relations Department and in 2020, it was published by the support of the Thai Media Fund (TMF).

To read the handbook in Thai, please visit: http://cokesoft.com/pdf-flip/b25db6dc5c01dd22843730821ca53d96/?fbclid=IwAR1NyRB8uFFEnt1H3Kq8lf_QLZAP7MzYZFJ9NkGAwzs0HwD5KYWGGrSVNTk#page/26

To read the handbook in English, please visit: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265552

Educating people on media literacy can be a solution in tackling the spread of online falsehoods.

Mr. Wasan Paileeklee, CEO of Thai Media Fund or TMF, had an interview with Mr. Adam Bemma, Journalist, Developing World Media on 11 October 2019 at TMF Office on the topic of “What TMF is doing to collaborate on tackling the spread of online falsehoods?” and he gave the opinion on this topic as follows.

  1. How is TMF working on tackling false information online?

Since TMF’s objective is to promote and develop safe and constructive media including educating media literacy in Thai society, TMF tries to grant and empower its partners to work over the objective. TMF operates a school camp in order to teach the student 1. how to produce short clip especially on the topic of media literacy, cyberbullying and hate speech? 2. how can the student use media wisely and safely?

Which online issues does TMF focuses on?

TMF stresses on youth and children not particularly on any subject but Fake News, Hate Speech, and Cyberbullying. TMF believes that in the long term if people have media literacy skills, they can decide what is fake, they do not spread disinformation to others.

  1. Who is TMF working with?

TMF works with professionals, journalists, producers, newspapers, radio, television, academics such as CU, TU and other universities, foundation, NGO, and State Agencies.

TMF is also working with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES). As for Fake News, the MDES aims to set up the “Fake News Center” and organize this center with the aim to counter Fake News.

Mr. Paileeklee was invited to be a member of the center. TMF together with our partners believe that the way to counter Fake News in the long term is people having literacy skill. We have to educate people to have analytical skills and mind so that they do not believe anything easily.

Concerning the Fake News Center, there will be collaboration between many agencies on countering misinformation. This center won’t be highlighted on the political topic and subject that might affect people’ freedom and should not be used as for the political tool but on disaster, public health, public security, public infrastructure, and financial system, etc.

Moreover, TMF is working with civil organizations, academia and media to set up any collaboration to deal with this problem for example:

1) 17 June 2019, TMF co-hosted an “International Conference on Fake News” with other 7 organizations. The conference involves the experts from Thailand and overseas on countering Fake News, public policy in handling mis/ disinformation, fact-checking, and Media Information and Digital Literacy (MIDL). There were speakers from Ministry of Digital, Taiwan, Reuters, and AFP, etc. to share experience and information on countering Fake News.

2) TMF is supporting the TV program called “Sure And Share” which means you need to be sure before sharing anything. It is Thailand’s first fact-checking TV program produced by Thai News Agency (MCOT) in Thailand.

TMF and Share And Share Program also organize a training session for school students to learn “how to do fact-checking with MCOT?”.

  1. TMF works with LINE and AP (news agency), they do a “STOP FAKE NEWS CAMPAIGN in Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan”. In Thailand, they set up 2 workshops in Bangkok and Khon Kaen.

In conclusion, Fake News is a problem not only for Thailand but also every country all around the world. Nowadays everyone can be a reporter. You can receive news and information and can distribute news by yourself.

In the past, you have media to screen and choose some news for you. Media worked as a gatekeeper for you. Now you receive news and information by yourself.

We need to educate, to campaign about media literacy. If everyone knows which news is false so they won’t spread, circulate and will stop news.

TMF strongly believes that educating literacy to youth, children, and people in Thai society is a long term solution to countering Fake News.