Hapa Sushi’s OOH Campaign Gets Political

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Hapa Sushi, the Colorado-based restaurant chain that entered the public consciousness by offering raw fish and weed menu pairings when the state legalized recreational cannabis in 2014, is making advertising waves again. This time, the eatery combined its powers with TDA_Boulder for an Out-of-Home (OOH) campaign to create buzz and sell more sushi by using the polarized political landscape. As the accompanying image shows, the messaging is mostly negative space aside from the restaurant’s tagline and raw, unedited tweets from President Trump that appear on bus shelters and other outdoor outlets, social media and in several print publications. The implication is that doomsday is fast approaching as tensions rise and international relations deteriorate, and that we should all remember to treat ourselves to a good meal before the end.  

Not to get political in any way, but it’s no secret that people feel very strongly one way or another about the Trump administration and the current state of global affairs. Hapa Sushi clearly has no problems with exploiting that. After all, there’s no such thing as bad press, right? In fact, seven kiosks were pulled in Denver after the Downtown Denver Partnership raised concerns, but then again, that becomes another story that demands at least regional coverage.

So, now that the disclaimers have been made, and the campaign’s particulars have been conveyed, I know what you’re all thinking out there. It’s barely digital, and you’re right, but the content is impactful and controversial because it is so minimal. Whether it was a DOOH deployment or simply OOH, the absence of design here is exactly what makes it successful and interactive. Yes, this is undeniably an interactive campaign. However, rather than engaging an audience with touch points, immersion or audio, the interactivity here is purely emotional manipulation in the best and most effective way possible.

About Author

Jason Kushner is a videographer, editor, writer and filmmaker living in the Greater Atlanta Area. With an educational background combining film and journalism, Kushner has shot video and written for a myriad of publications and multimedia projects including Creative Loafing Tampa, TBO.com, Starline Films and Digital Signage Connection. His 2009 documentary American Colonies: Collapse of the Bee became an Official Selection at 12 international film festivals, won Best Documentary at the 2009 Central Florida Film Festival and a John Muir Gold Award at the 2009 Yosemite Film Festival.  In 2015, he became Digital Media Editor for Digital Signage Expo, LightShow West and LED Specifier Summit and has since become Digital Content Manager for those shows’ parent company, Exponation.

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