Media Mix, June 16, 2013

Miura and logos

Miura and logos

Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is about coverage of Yoichiro Miura’s record-breaking climb to the top of Mt. Everest in late May. The gist of the Shukan Bunshun article I refer to is that Miura and his family make a tidy living from alpine sports and thus the accomplishment can’t be separated from its promotional benefits. Of course, when Miura reached the summit every news organization in Japan was on hand at the Miura family compound to record the clan’s reaction, and when Miura and his son, Gota, arrived back in Japan after their feat, they were greeted by 70 students from the Clark Memorial International High School, of which Miura happens to be the principal, though it’s mainly a ceremonial function. The school has nine campuses throughout the Kanto region and some of the students had traveled far to greet their sensei, who has a financial stake in the private schools. They had to stay at airport hotels overnight, and their travel and accommodations were paid for by the school, which was also one of the sponsors for the Everest climb. The Bunshun reporter wrote, “I got the impression that the students had been mobilized for Miura’s arrival,” and then goes on to describe the airport press conference, where “thirty representatives of sponsors” competed with one another to make sure their respective products or names were “prominently displayed” on the dais where Miura and his son took questions. There is nothing underhanded or unsavory about these commercial priorities. As outlined in the column, climbing Everest is a very expensive undertaking. What Bunshun wanted to point out is that it’s particularly expensive for someone Miura’s age, because the risk that normally accompanies such an endeavor has to be reduced to the very minimum, and that requires lots of money. So while Miura is certainly an inspiration to old people everywhere, one has to realize that no chances were taken with regard to his safety, thus undermining the media hype that surrounded the event. The fact that the Miura family used the climb to boost its brand shouldn’t be surprising since that’s what they do, and maybe everyone understands that. You certainly can’t avoid the Suntory logo (for its sesame-related health foods, not its liquor) whenever you see Miura talking about his achievement. It comes with the territory. Nobody’s cynical when everybody’s clued in.

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