King has opened an office in Japan and is letting its freak flag fly in an entertainingly weird TV marketing campaign.
The new nationwide ads, which began airing April 17 and are in “heavy rotation,” according to gaming consultant Serkan Toto, star two Japanese celebrities: Boy band member Junichi Okada and actor Kenichi Endo. In their four 15-second spots, which are compiled in the video below, Okada and Endo stare into the camera, have a surreal exchange about their “conflicting view of the world*,” and then the candy shows up, along with a prompt to download the game.
This isn’t the first time the addictive mobile game has made it to Japanese TV, but it’s certainly the weirdest. The game’s first television ad in the country debuted in December, and is disarmingly ordinary by comparison: A woman plays Candy Crush while candy rains down on her.
The first ad gave downloads a huge boost when it aired, bumping Candy Crush from the low 100s to become the top-downloaded iOS app and No. 2 top-downloaded Google Play app in Japan in a matter of days, according to App Annie. Downloads on both platforms slowly dropped off again until they turned around in mid-April, when the new marketing campaign launched.
After the new ads’ debut, Candy Crush peaked at no. 3 most-downloaded on the Japanese iPhone charts and is currently at no. 25 as of the time of this writing; on Google Play, it’s currently no. 8 overall in downloads. Since September 2013 on iPhone and April 2013 on iPad and Google Play, it has been a top-50 grossing game as well.
King’s new Japanese office has only three people so far, but has plans to hire more, with Japanese social gaming veteran Ken Edahiro at the helm.
* That’s how Google Translate puts it when fed this Japanese press release, anyway.