Back in 2008, Panasonic was looking for a unique way to differentiate its Evolta AA alkaline battery in what had become a highly competitive market.
Recognising Guinness World Records as the ideal partner to provide a globally respected stamp of authority, the company harnessed the power of record breaking to illustrate the long-life of its product, resulting in one of the most memorable marketing campaigns of recent times.
The on-going global campaign, which has included an iconic TV ad starring brand mascot Mr.Evolta climbing the Grand Canyon, has so far seen Panasonic set new records for the Longest lasting AA alkaline battery cell as well as unforgettable record attempts at the titles for the Longest plastic toy train track and the Greatest distance by a radio-controlled model car on one set of batteries.
As part of Guinness World Records 60th anniversary, we recently presented an official certificate to Panasonic Energy Device Business Division Director Mitsutoshi Shigeta to mark the company’s record breaking achievements and spoke to him about the important role Guinness World Records has played in the Evolta campaign.
Before talking about Panasonic’s Guinness World Records record achievements, can you tell us a little bit about how you came to dedicate your career to Panasonic?
My father worked outside of Japan in places like Africa and with such a family background, I was interested in knowing about the different cultures that I had been exposed to during my childhood.
I wanted to work for a company with a global outlook where I had the chance to change society in some way, perhaps even the whole world! That was Panasonic for me.
Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic, stated the company’s mission as “The progress and development of society and the well-being of people through our business activities, thereby enhancing the quality of life throughout the world”.
Commercial benefit was not the first priority for Konosuke. He created a number of successful products following his philosophy and expanded the business beyond Japan to the global market. I also felt that the business should always result in people’s benefit. The way Konosuke lived was ideal for me, and that is why I thought I could make my dream come true with Panasonic.
How do you think your development team members will react about this 60th anniversary certificate news?
Actually, I already announced this special news to staff members in this morning’s meeting. The development team members are so delighted to hear that our record was re-certified by Guinness World Records for this commemorative occasion. It is such a pleasure; it’s like a feeling that our baby did it!
The development and success of EVOLTA was brought about by the whole company, by sharing ideas and listening to the voices of actual users. It is not just about us, the development team, but the manufacturing team, production management team, the accounting team calculating the costs, and the sales team in the front line - so many different teams are involved in Panasonic achieving this honour.
The fact that our work has been recognised in different ways means that our business succeeded in contributing to society. I believe that this special certificate is definitely an embodiment of that.
What have been the most challenging aspects of developing a product that is now recognised as the longest lasting AA alkaline battery?
The battery has a long history – the sort of product we’re familiar with now was essentially invented in France about 150 years ago. The standards for each battery size, D, C, AA, and AAA are defined globally, as are the electric voltage and the discharge of an electrical current. It was therefore not an easy task to improve the efficiency and the quality of the battery where so many of the conditions are fixed – a challenge that engineers have been set with for pretty much the past 150 years. Nevertheless, we had to go a step further than everyone.
We strived hard and always aimed to produce the world’s best battery. Because of this effort, EVOLTA has continuously been the world’s No.1 for seven years since being first certified by Guinness World Records. I want to express my pleasure in Panasonic achieving our Guinness World Records titles, and my deepest gratitude to all the members of our team who were involved in the making of EVOLTA.
What was the reaction to the product around the world after EVOLTA was recognised by Guinness World Records as the longest lasting AA alkaline battery cell in 2008?
We have created many TV adverts and held promotion campaigns around our Guinness World Records titles.
We found the campaigns especially useful in global markets - achieving our world records enabled us to spread awareness of our brand, and the important message that EVOLTA is the longest lasting AA alkaline battery cell.
Guinness World Records has the power to create emotional stories and I think this was very much the case back in 2013 when we came up with a new idea of challenging a Guinness World Records title featuring children from an elementary school in Tokyo which was set to close down due to a decrease in the number of children studying there.
The record attempt was for the longest plastic toy train track. We collaborated with TOMY on the project with the attempt featuring their “Plarail” railroad toy. The train track measures 5,608.44 m (18,400 ft 4 in) in length and was placed all over the school building - through classrooms, the library, and the gymnasium. All the children followed the toy train which was moving only using the power of one EVOLTA battery. They were all cheering, and when the train entered the gymnasium where the record was set, the train was welcomed by various generations of graduates of the school. The record attempt really turned out to be a beautiful, touching story.
You were born in Japan, have worked globally and have achieved a Guinness World Records title through working at Panasonic. You mentioned about your childhood dream in the beginning of the interview. How do you feel about yourself now?
I think the meaning of work is how one can contribute to society and to the world at large. The whole world uses batteries. It is an essential item for everyday life to move or lighten something. I am so happy to be part of this team as the director, particularly in the knowledge that the technology from Japan is helping people’s everyday life.
Nothing can be more rewarding. so in that regard, my childhood dream has come true.
What are your thoughts on Guinness World Records' 60th anniversary?
In this constantly changing world, for Guinness World Records to keep its global recognised standard in the way it has for the past 60 years is an unbelievable achievement. I’d therefore like to show my respect to Guinness World Records, there must have been many challenges to overcome over such a long period.
Panasonic has itself a significant anniversary coming up - the company will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2018, while it has been 84 years since Panasonic started producing batteries. As a company which also holds a long history, we would like to congratulate Guinness World Records on their incredible milestone.