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Lessons from Japan: brand responses to national disaster

In the midst of a national disaster, how do brands respond? When brand managers talk about disasters, thankfully it’s not usually to the scale of the crisis faced by Japan in March 2011. Whilst not undermining the tragic effect on the population, here is a deeper look at how brands in Japan reacted, and the corresponding impact of their strategy and communications during the disaster.

Havas Media’s Meaningful Brands research* reveals that the Japanese population remained very stoic following the disaster. The overwhelming sense of national pride and faith in the ‘collective’ remained intact. Most people expected national companies to take a leading role in the recovery and that as a consequence these efforts are seen as a civic duty and a responsibility these companies have towards their country. If public sentiment is so stable, and the expectations so focused on governments and national brands, what is the role for brands when a disaster of this magnitude hits? How should they react to such an economically and socially destabilising situation?

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