Japanese mobile provider au have teamed up with the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo in a fun marketing campaign aimed at promoting their smartphones called Panda Today.

Earlier in the year Japan was gripped with Panda fever with the arrival of two new Panda’s from China at the popular Ueno Zoo. In an attempt to capitalize on this au have launched a campaign using Facebook and Twitter where users can experience live Panda action without having to visit the Zoo itself. To access the website users “like” and then scan a QR code from the Facebook site, and content can only be seen through smartphones.

Hourly videos of Panda adventures are broadcast on the mobile website and users can tweet their favorite videos out to their followers directly from the site, spreading the reach of the campaign further. Video clips that receive the most tweets are entered into a ranking area and there are behind the scene special videos accessible to those who vote on different videos in the rankings through Facebook likes. Users are encouraged to watch each day and see the Panda’s growing up, the virtual next best thing to having your own pet Panda!

au have been particularly clever in their use of social media in this campaign. By granting extra content only to those who spread the campaign through their social channels it is rewarding the community they are building up around the product. Also utilizing Facebook “likes” to control the rankings also shows a good awareness of how social media can be used to amplify a product’s reach. It would have been nice to have seen some more interaction where users could tweet things they would like to hear from the Panda’s zoo keepers or for example select what toys they would like them to play with that day.