The Goldilocks effect – when it works just right

‘The Goldilocks effect’ is, unsurprisingly, a term adapted from Robert Southby’s “Goldilocks and the three bears” novel, and is generally used to refer to the “habitable” zone where a planet might sit in terms of its distance from the sun it orbits – not too far (cold), not too close (hot), but just right. Generally reserved for astronomy and astrophysicists, I believe the term could and should be applied to digital, mobile and social media marketing too. The notion that something needs to be ‘just right’ to be shared and enjoyed by like-minded, or broad audiences is what most marketers and business are hoping will happen.

As we’ve seen, there’s an art to getting it just right. It might seem like a simple recipe:


– A dollop of something inspiring
– A dash of fun
– Pour in people getting excited
– Add a sprinkling of social media
And all of this mixed together is meant to add up to a great marketing, social and viral campaign, that’s worthy of talking about with colleagues and sharing on social networks.

A simple recipe it may be, but even the simplest recipe’s are hard to master. Truly great chef’s know you need to add your own unique ingredients for just the right flavour, texture and success.

Today I want to share an example of a campaign that hit the Goldilocks zone from the minute it was conceived. Other than Ōtoro, blossoming trees and Loft, the Japanese are passionate about their Shinkansen trains.

Japan’s Shinkansen Corporation got their new marketing and social media campaign just right in this new video of the soon-to-launch Southern Bullet train service.

They added an essential ingredient: People’s Passion. They tapped into something that many brands could do, but are either scared to, or lack the vision to do – they gave up control of much of their visual content to the people who will use their services. It’s a brave and scary thing for many brands, it’s safer to control everything from the outset. But the one thing that controlling, or trying to control, the entire message can’t achieve is a huge amount of interest from everyone involved when the campaign launches. Shinkansen have ensured they have a large ready-made and eager audience in every participant – because everyone wants to know if they made the cut. And if they did, they’ll undoubtedly share it, and be talking about it with their friends and colleagues for weeks to come. If they didn’t, they’ll probably still share it, because it is a very happy, celebratory, video (Try watching it and not smiling).

In a country that is light years ahead in technology in so many ways: mobile banking and mobile payments (I’ll do a post on this soon), restaurant ordering, and corporate efficiency just to name a few, it’s always inspiring to see something truly great that is powered by the thing that Japan is arguably most proud of: its people.

The Shinkansen campaign and video hit the Goldilocks zone the second they launched this. The only question remaining is when you’ll hit your Goldilocks moment too.

Random Shinkansen facts from Wikipedia:
travelling Tokyo-Osaka by Shinkansen produces only around 16% of the carbon dioxide of the equivalent journey by car, a savings of 15,000 tons of CO2 per year.
– The Shinkansen has had a significant effect on Japan’s business, economy, society, environment and culture.[6] The time savings alone from switching from a conventional to a high-speed network have been estimated at 400 million hours, an economic impact of ¥500 billion per year.[6] Shinkansen connectivity has rejuvenated rural towns such as Kakegawa that would otherwise be too distant from major cities.
– During the Shinkansen’s 45-year, nearly 7 billion-passenger history, there have been no passenger fatalities due to derailments or collisions, despite frequent earthquakes and typhoons. Injuries and a single fatality have been caused by doors closing on passengers or their belongings; attendants are employed at platforms to prevent such mishaps.

And my personal favourite:
– The Shinkansen is very reliable thanks to several factors, including its near-total separation from slower traffic. In 2003, JR Central reported that the Shinkansen’s average arrival time was within six seconds of the scheduled time. This includes all natural and human accidents and errors and was calculated over roughly 160,000 Shinkansen trips completed.[8] The previous record, from 1997, was 18 seconds.

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