MNL48 and the Marketing Mix

MNL48 and the Marketing Mix

MNL48, AKB48’s Pinoy sister, will be announcing its top 200 participants in a few hours — and here I am, thinking of what has gone through this gruesome yet exciting journey.

Never mind me not being able to oshi (push) more applicants, or even verify my own account so I can do so — being in sales and marketing company for almos two years made me understand this journey a bit different.

Bear with me as I mix idols with some basic marketing models, something I want to do after reading a Reddit thread on the LoveLive! School idol project, one of Japan’s biggest-selling musical acts, and why it’s considered a “Marketing Visionary.” (I think THE [email protected], having been established before LoveLive!, deserves its own version too.)


The Marketing Models

By far, we have two marketing models that are used in the current practice: the 4Ps and S.A.V.E. The 4Ps has been the standard, but as times change, so does the way of promotion, and that’s where S.A.V.E. came to fruition. (You can delve deeper in these models by clicking on the links.)

The 4Ps of Marketing

In 4Ps, we have the Product, Price, Promotion and Place, basically answering the basic question on how to market your product or service:

  • What product (or service) you are going promote?
  • How much (price) will the product be?
  • In what way you will promote it?
  • Which place/s will you promote it?

As the applicants promote themselves, they are subject to verification and scrutiny, sometimes a lot of it.

This reminds me of a conversation between me and Wiljanz (Protektor) who heads the local wota propaganda group Do it for the Aidols (DIFTA — I’ll be mentioning a lot of this), where he mentioned to me that idols in the 48 Group focus more in the appearance.

For applicants in MNL48, this is very important — I believe First Impressions Last. How the applicant presents itself will reflect on the decision of the potential supporter to oshi her.

Some supporters reacted negatively when they are showed a video of an applicant inside the audition booth sexy dancing to the popular Heavy Rotation, in which I felt a story of a high school girl confessing her love.

Now we go to Price — or should I say in this case, the Value of an applicant. What are her strengths? What are her skills? What are the things that she need to improve on once she gets to MNL48? What will make the supporter oshi her?

In mobile games such as THE [email protected] Million Live, they have groups which focuses on either singing, dancing and others. What I see early in this journey is that we have applicants who somehow have personalities of the likes of Sally Amaki (of 22/7 or Nanabunnonijyuuni, whom AKB48’s Yaushi Akimoto is also the producer), or Keyakizaka46’s Yurina Hirate, and I’ve met some of them, actually — some even before the search started.

I can say that MNL48’s promotion is coursed through two channels — Television (through its partner ABS-CBN) and Online (via its website and Facebook).

Before the Top 200 gets selected, MNL48 already has the tools that they offer to applicants which they can share on their Facebook profiles to get more supporters to push for them.

Prior to this, Facebook groups and pages about MNL48 are already built as a way to increase their supporters. As for TV, you know they’re going to be shown on It’s Showtime.

Last year, I already saw a few applicants showing up in events such as the Ozine Fest Anime Figure Special and Cosplay Matsuri. DIFTA, a group dedicated to idols (which is different from anime idols or anidols), made a few videos based on it.

The S.A.V.E. Marketing Model

Dubbed as the “New 4Ps of Marketing,” the S.A.V.E. Model focuses on different aspects:

  • The solution to a problem,
  • How accessible it is to the people (and who should access it),
  • The value of the solution that is being promoted, and
  • How it shall solve the problem (product education).

I can rationalize this as follows:

  • The Solution — “What/Who will solve the problem about today’s music industry? (Too deep to answer, but I’ll drop this here in place of a better question)”
  • Access — The 48G is known for having “Idols you can meet,” having their handshake events. They stick to doing this regardless of the incidents that has arise before because the fans are more important to them — if not for the fans, they’re not idols.
  • Value — I’ve discussed this in the Price part of the 4Ps Model, but it can be anything of value to the supporter. “Why should I support her?”
  • Education—Fans decide who will be their oshimen (oshi menba, or their number 1 idol) later in the journey, so they will be scrutinizing on the applicant’s life story.

DIFTA was able to interview some of the idols in person, which led to other pages opening up their doors to help the applicants promote themselves.

Moreover, I am actually surprised is that in the last part of the search, Teams from Quezon City and Cavite held their guerrilla events, inviting supporters to watch them dance up close.

Aside from guerrilla events, some applicants actually did giveaways — you vote for them, you get an entry to win a prize from them. This is aside from the sharing of their life stories, why they deserve to be in the first batch of MNL48 and so on.


As I write this post, I remembered my visit to the MNL48 auditions in Tutuban — there’s the 48G dancers in their MNL48 t-shirts dancing to Koisuru Fortune Cookie, Aitakatta and Heavy Rotation; and then there’s the applicants who are donning their own MNL48 t-shirts who are at the side, joining the 48G dancers. Sometimes, dreaming about being an idol is not enough — you have to do something to make it real, like those girls.

I can’t wait to know the Top 200 who shall compete to be part of the first batch once the first Senbatsu (Election) strikes this April. All the best to the applicants, and looking forward to oshi you further.