Akagi Nyugyo Co. is apologising for increasing the price of its long-selling ice treat Gari-Gari Kun. Starting April this month, each popsicle’s price will be raised from 60 yen to 70 yen. This is the first price hike in 25 years. Sorry about that! As the Mainichi News points out, Akagi isn’t the only company raising prices (Suntory Whisky, for example, will also be more expensive) this autumn, but so far, the company is the first I’ve seen to apologise like this.
Playing in the background is Wataru Takada’s wonderful folk song “Neage” (値上げ), which means “Price Hike”. The lyrics talk about not wanting to increase the price, while the text reads, “We held out for 25 years, but [the price is increasing] from 60 to 70 [yen].” That’s a price increase of 10 yen, which is around 12 cents. The reason for the hike, Mainichi News explains, is due to an increase in the cost of ingredients and labour.
Then the staff, executives and all bow before the camera. Apology culture can be seen through Japanese corporate culture, especially when there are screw-ups, but here, this is different. It’s also a very smart way to introduce a price increase and drums up publicity. Case in point, the ad is all over Japanese websites and now, on this Western one.