When it comes to bridging East and West, Jeff Goddard is a tireless middleman. In 1978, the Glendale native pitched the Mormon faith in Japan, learning that nation’s language and culture through door-to-door encounters in southern Honshu and on Shikoku island.
In 1983, he joined the Tokyo office of advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather and persuaded the Japanese to eat more Sunkist oranges, use more Exxon oil and wear Lee jeans.
Then he began pitching the American viewpoint to the Japanese, gaining status as a celebrity gaijin, or foreigner. He made more than 300 TV appearances, during which he was interviewed on questions ranging from East-West relations to “Do you like Japanese women?” He even became a regular panelist on a TV quiz show, “Those Amazing Foreigners: They Get It Right Every Time!”
Now Goddard is back in Southern California, this time selling the merits of what he calls the future of transpacific marketing: video brochures.
Goddard, 31, is president of the Video Agency in Hollywood. It produces, distributes and markets videos in 40 languages that are used to sell products, project corporate images and attract overseas investors. Goddard says video marketing combines the best of three media: It has the visual appeal of television. It can target consumers as precisely as direct mail. And it can convey the details of print brochures.
Video brochures also save the cost and time of sales trips, overcome language barriers and allow the potential buyer to see the product directly, Goddard says. A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business found that video brochures increase information retention by 50% and speed up buying decisions by 72%.
“The future of advertising isn’t broadcasting with traditional mediums,” says Goddard, a natural pitchman who punctuates his speech with excited waves of his arms. The future, he said, is target marketing.
Jon Douglas and Coldwell Banker are using Goddard’s videos to sell million-dollar properties to wealthy Japanese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong residents. Baskin-Robbins is using them to find joint-venture partners for its 31 flavors in Indonesia and South Korea. Sony has used them to make video magazines about its products. For such large companies, Goddard’s agency can make elaborate videos whose costs run into the six figures.
But the agency can also produce videos for as low as $5,000 for small businesses. When Newport Beach couple Steve and Barbara Kent wanted to franchise their baked potato business, Posh Potato, they went to Goddard. He produced a video about their business for less than $10,000 and introduced them to a potential joint-venture partner in Japan. The couple took their video to Japan--and came back with a deal and a $650,000 check.
Scott Richardson, vice president of a San Clemente auto-painting business, said the 25-minute video produced by the Video Agency has helped sell 89 franchises in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. His firm, Color Nouveau, made back its $8,000 investment in the video in one month, he said.
First the video depicts the problem: runaway shopping carts nicking cars, careless passengers throwing open their door and dinging the sides of parked cars. Then it shows how Color Nouveau’s paint restoration system can eliminate the scratches more quickly and cheaply than typical body repair shops. Although brochures are also sent to prospective customers, Richardson said not one sale has closed without the video aid.
“They say, ‘OK, here’s a brochure, and I’m already bored with reading.’ But the video takes them in, captures their interest, creates a desire, convinces them. And they call. And boom. The final sales close,” Richardson said.
The Video Agency also helps develop a firm’s overall ad campaign. When Morinaga Nutritional Foods Inc. wanted to break into the U.S. tofu market a few years ago, it faced a formidable problem. Surveys indicated that Americans regarded tofu as a strange cultural product that ranked with lima beans, liver and Brussels sprouts as one of their least-liked foods.
Goddard’s firm developed a 30-minute cooking video showing how tofu could be used in such familiar recipes as strawberry cheesecake and lasagna. The agency also produced two cable-TV shows on the health merits of tofu and a five-minute sales video for buyers. The videos were part of Morinaga’s ad campaign, “Tofu Magic,” that included a cookbook by Julia Weinberg, a free sample and an 800 telephone number for questions.
After the campaign was launched, sales increased 130% in 1988 and have continued to grow about 30% since, said Morinaga’s marketing consultant, Tom McReynolds. He said Goddard’s work, as well as the other ad promotions, helped reposition tofu as a versatile, healthful ingredient for such mainstream recipes as pies.
Not everyone has met smashing success. Carl’s Jr. ordered a video to help it break into the Japanese market. But its Japanese partners said it was not adequately translated and they would have preferred a few different words and concepts, said Steve Kishi, vice president--international. In hindsight, he said, the video should have been jointly developed by the U.S. and Japanese sides.
“What we did not do properly was have our Japanese people listen to it first,” Kishi said. “As far as promoting business, anything visual is good but, in our own experience, (the video) wasn’t a home run.”
Kishi said the U.S. side sent half a dozen videos to Japan, and no more have been requested. To promote business in the future, Kishi plans to use more sales presentations instead. “In Japan, especially, it does mean a lot when you do it yourself. When you’re talking face to face and eye to eye, it shows how much commitment you have.”
To develop a video, Goddard works with a client to come up with an overall theme. For production, he relies on a vast network of writers, directors and camera people, as well as distributors. Their names are plucked from several giant-sized Rolodex files in his black, high-tech office on Vine Street.
All production is done under contract with Advanced Teleproduction Services in Hollywood. The $20-million studio, frequented by the likes of Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg, boasts state-of-the-art equipment such as the “waveFront” animation that made the Batmobile’s computer-graphic shields look real in the “Batman” film.
Such sophisticated production, as well as the professional editing, distinguishes Goddard’s work from other marketing videos, said Maureen McConnell, manager of international marketing for Baskin-Robbins International Co. Goddard developed videos introducing Baskin-Robbins to potential overseas partners. The ice cream company, which operates in 44 countries, sends out brochures for casual requests for information but uses videos for serious inquiries.
“Videos bring everything to the moment . . . a much more exciting presentation than brochures,” McConnell said. “The bad news is that you have to have a TV set to plug it in.”
Goddard combines his knowledge of Japan with a family background in film. His father, John, is a producer of adventure films and documentaries. His mother and sister are actresses. Goddard and his Japanese wife, Kaoru, have two children.
From the time Goddard started his business out of his Van Nuys home in 1987, the Video Agency has grown from grossing a few thousand dollars a year to $5 million. Goddard used to make three videos a month but now handles 37, including promotions for a computerized wallet and how-to videos for home improvement projects.
And although he initially focused on soliciting business from Japanese firms, he is shifting his focus to try to help U.S. firms sell in Japan and other Pacific Rim markets. A new project is a video trade magazine, which will offer U.S. products in overseas markets.