Monday, April 02, 2007

diderot and the cute nissan pino

Grant McCracken, in his book “Culture and Consumption”, recalls an essay by French philosopher Francis Diderot. In his essay, “On Partying with my Old Dressing Gown”, Diderot described the transformation caused in his life by a beautiful new dressing gown he received as a gift. He loved the gift, but soon thereafter however, he notices that, compared to the new gown, the decoration in his room, the rug, the curtains, the desk, all looked shabby. He proceeds to replace them one by one, so that they match the new gown. McCracken describes this process as the “Diderot effect”, the way people create a lifestyle by trying to find cultural consistency in the things they buy, so that they “match”.
I just mention this idea because I came across the new Nissan Pino, recently launched (last January) in Japan, targeted at young women. Looking it as it is, it seems like just another small car.However, a visit to Pino’s website quickly tells a different story. To start with, you're welcomed by this "lovely loading" sign.Then you get it. Pino is a kawaii (cute) car. But the interesting thing about the Pino is not the car in itself, but how the cuteness meaning is created. Look at the picture below.
The car is not the center of the action. It’s more of a complement to the whole scene. And it’s the surrounding, with all its cuteness, that "contaminates" the car with meaning. Normally, as Wired’s Mark Durhan well noted, “...using cutesey fluffy pinkness to sell cars to 20-year-old women would be beyond the pale - too narrow, too sexist, too ludicrous. Not so in Japan”.
The Pino, much as Diderot’s gown, helps the girls define a lifestyle. Like Diderot’s gown, it’s not the only item, but a complementary object that, along with her keitai (mobile), her favorite pair of jeans, her pair of sneakers, her handbag, her nail polisher, and all her other possessions (all “lovely” of course, see below), creates her lifestyle and will accompany her “365 days a year, 24 hours a day”.And then comes the fun part, accessories. Girls can choose a heart-shaped cushion, a stuffed dog called “Pino Dog”, a flower-patterned upholstery, and a dozen other matching items, to help them create the desired effect.Accessorizing and personalization are not new ideas, but I hardly remember seeing them so tightly-knit behind the creation of specific lifestyles.
And if you thought the concept of “cuteness” defined only one lifestyle, you haven’t really started in this world. Pino’s campaign shows a group of three fashionable friends who strut around their different "cute styles". They portray three different types of cuteness: the “feminine cute” Yumi-chan, who is a model and loves dancing and snowboarding;......the “casual cute” Kimi-chan who wears a pair of jeans shorts and practices yoga;......and the “beautiful cute” Tamami-chan, who wears a plaid skirt and is into classic ballet. Each one of them brings her own matching accessories; a stuffed pink dog and flower-themed upholstery for Yumi-chan; an apple-shaped CD holder and a green dog for Kimi-chan, and so on. One does not have to worry about which is the best match. Pino does it for her (but of course, people are free to try their own creativity).
I don't know if this "cute strategy" would translate well outside Japan, maybe this is too much of a Japanese thing, but the concept behind it is great. Diderot would've certainly endorsed it.

4 comments:

bibianalopez said...

Fun but not for me : )

p said...

muito bom.

Nelson said...

obrigado pelos comentários. Nelson

jembogawa said...

I would buy this car if it was available in England. It is sooooooooo kawaii!!