Hokkaido and its capital, Sapporo, are known for many great things: beer, chocolate, butter ramen, and a giant snow festival to name a few. Now the city is adding a fleet of extraordinary cabs to their long list of must-try experiences. The taxis, decked out in all sorts of wild, anime-inspired designs, are proving to be a hit with locals and tourists alike. But with nothing to gain from advertising, why are the cab drivers doing it?
Choei Kotsu Corporation, the taxi company behind the new designs, has confirmed that they receive no advertising revenue from their wrapped cars. But this is exactly why the cars can be so bold and beautifully out-there. Under an ad classification, the custom wraps and the characters on them would have to be smaller and more subtle due to restrictions on outdoor advertising.
The flashy cabs are called “ita-taku“. Ita means pain (the type of pain inflicted on your eyes when you catch sight of something decked out in bold, colourful anime designs) and taku is an abbreviation of the word takushī (taxi). An eyesore to some, delicious eye candy to others, the ita-taku are making stops at famous landmarks around town, including the Sapporo Clock Tower.
Ita!!! There’s pain in too much cuteness, and this girl’s upping the ante by taking a ride in an ita-taku dedicated to herself! Her relation to anime? She’s Aoi Eir, the Sapporo-born singer of the ending theme song for the anime Fate/Zero.
The project began last August, with the introduction of the “Little Berries” cab. The Little Berries girls represent three of Hokkaido’s home-grown berries: the Haskap, the Aronia, and the Seaberry.
Fun fact: the Little Berries were developed in conjunction with artists from Sapporo-based media company Crypton Future Media, the same company that developed the famous singing application and character, Hatsune Miku .
Now there’s a variety of cabs, including one dedicated to Hokkaido’s undead character, Francesca, created by local company Heartbeat.
The world of ita doesn’t need to stop at the door! The Francesca mobile brings it inside for you to enjoy during the journey. You can watch a short anime about Francesca, and the driver will even give you a postcard souvenir so you can remember your unique cab ride!
It costs several hundred dollars to sticker wrap a vehicle, but with no advertising revenue for the cab company, many people say there’s no real benefit to pimping out the cars and it’s a big risk to the company.
Mr Takeuchi, head of the company’s Project Department, says the ita-taku benefit everyone, especially the cab drivers themselves. “The ita-taku earns more than twice as much as a regular taxi. This is obviously a big plus for cab drivers because the extra earnings go straight to them.”
Takeuchi has found that customers aren’t too picky with the character designs; unknown or well-known, if it’s wrapped in ita, the customers will come. We can’t imagine that these Gainax Evangelion cabs would ever be empty!
Mr Takeuchi is the man to thank for the stand-out cabs. Rather than supporting a traditional advertising system, he believes in a free publicity system where everybody wins: unrestricted car wraps benefit cab drivers, local businesses and customers. Who knew that the ita-taku was more than just an eye-catching piece of moving street art? There’s actually an innovative economic system that belies the beast. What a way to generate the economy! Well done, sir, well done!
Source: IT Media (Japanese)、 twitter.com/choeiotaxi