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Marketer: East Japan Railway Co. Agency: Tugboat, Tokyo

Japan's skiing ostriches are back on the air after "Japan Snow Project" campaign is derailed by train wreck

[tokyo] Japan's three skiing ostriches are back, but they've had a tough winter. The popular ostriches, seen in two earlier "Japan Snow Project" commercials expertly skiing down the slopes while shouting "We want snow," lured Japanese to take East Japan Railway Co.'s high-speed bullet trains to ski resorts. The third season's spot broke Dec. 17 but was pulled a week later by the client after a disastrous Dec. 25 train wreck caused by too much snow. The train company posted an apology to the victims of the derailment on its home page, politely asking forgiveness even from the people living near the accident site, for annoyance and inconvenience.

This month the spot, called "Ski in the City," is back on the air in Japan. Unlike past years, the three ostriches are trying to ski in a snowless urban environment. Wearing skis, they skid down city steps, trudge across streets, slide down playground equipment and crowd into elevators. The absurd scenario "shows how difficult it is to ski in the city," according to Yaumichi Oka, creative director at Tugboat, an independent Tokyo shop. "It makes you feel you want to get out and ski."

At the end of the spot, the ostriches are happily skiing on snowy slopes again. The ostriches, really people in large ostrich costumes, were chosen partly because the bird's speed symbolizes the speed of the bullet train, but mainly because it struck Tugboat as funny because ostriches have nothing to do with snow or skiing.
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