Okinawa axes racy ad campaign using young women's thighs after outcry
Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Public outrage has forced Okinawa's tourism authority to cancel a promotional campaign to plaster the prefecture's delights across the thighs of young women.
First proposed in December, the plan was for body stickers to be worn by dozens of young women across Japan to draw visitors to the beaches and nightlife of the country's most southerly prefecture.
When the plan was revealed in the local media, however, the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau and the prefectural government were bombarded with complaints from local people saying the campaign was "undignified". It was also lambasted as an inappropriate use of taxpayers' money.
"After we heard the opinions of Okinawa's citizens, we decided that we should not do this kind of advertising campaign," said Rui Kinjo, a spokeswoman for the bureau. "We decided that it was not suitable for the tourism branding that we want for Okinawa."
But having Okinawa peddled through the streets of Tokyo and Osaka on the bare skin of young women would almost certainly have been an effective way of turning heads and boosting visitor numbers, another bureau official told the Okinawa Times.
"Although we believe it would prove to be instantaneously effective in marketing to young people, when looking at the image of the prefecture as a whole, the demerits are considerable," the unnamed official said. "As funding is coming from national government coffers, we decided it was not worth fighting those opposed."
Okinawa would have been just the latest client to employ "thigh advertising", a concept dreamed up by a public relations firm called Zettai, which takes its name from the Japanese term "zettai ryouiki", which translates as "absolute territory" and refers to that racy stretch of skin just below the hemline of an attractive young lady's miniskirt or shorts.
Kinjo said the aim behind Okinawa's campaign was to attract more young people for the spring holiday season, but after the outcry the bureau and the local authority have informed the advertising firm that they would prefer to explore more conventional advertising opportunities.