In the winter of 2008, the unbranded Love Distance web sites introduced the world to two lovers in Japan, one living in Fukuoka and the other in Tokyo, separated from each other by 1,000 kilometers. The two sites were separated by gender, one site for males and the other for females; once a viewer was logged into one site, they were automatically restricted from viewing the other for the duration of the lovers’ journey.

Over the course of a month, the public could look in on the couple in real time as they closed the divide by running towards a central rendezvous point, aiming to meet on Christmas Eve.  A counter on each site converted the distance from kilometers into millimeters. The real-time commentary included SMS messages between the two, their individual blog entries, their shared video chats and footage of their running paths.  Viewers were also asked to participate in surveys on each website, answering questions like “Have you ever cheated during a long distance relationship?”; the results were incorporated into pie graphs and charts on the male and female sites.

Finally, on 24 December, the couple had run the distance and was reunited – as the world watched in real time, their distance closed in from 1,000,000,000mm to 0mm.   The moment they embraced both the male and female websites merged into one site, and the purpose of this journey was revealed.

Love Distance was a month-long advertising campaign for Sagami Condoms, bringing awareness to their product, currently one of the thinnest condoms available around the world.

Monday 21 – Friday 25 September was Advertising Week, and I was thrilled to accompany The TORCH Program participants to selected events at the Times and Paley Centers in NYC.  At TORCH, we ask our students to examine advertising and communication in the world around them, encouraging them to be more than just passive consumers in our culture.  Two of my favorite sessions took place on Tuesday of Advertising Week; I took the students to the USA TODAY Pulse of America Series – Cannes International Advertising Festival Lions & Young Lions Winners Showcase and The Future in 4D: Brands, Communities, Content & Technology, an electrically charged presentation by Contagious.  Both sessions highlighted this Sagami Condoms advertising campaign, and the TORCH students and I have not been able to stop talking about it since.  This campaign gave Sagami Condoms an uplift in sales of 125%, and it was awarded a much-coveted Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival this past year.

I would like to dedicate this post to our recently graduated TORCH students, all of whom are beginning their first year in college. We have watched you grow tremendously over the last three years, and we are so proud of you for everything you have accomplished!  Keeping up with you on Twitter, I know that some of you are having a difficult time being separated from old friends, family and high school sweethearts.  Separation from a loved one can indeed be difficult, heart breaking, formidable… but it is still comforting to know that, at times, love needs distance.  Don’t hesitate to call the TORCH office if you need a familiar voice from home 🙂

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