Softbank's marketing moves in Japan may hint at Sprint strategy

editor's corner

Ever since Softbank announced plans to invest $20.1 billion in Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), people have been wondering what exactly the Japanese company has in mind for its new U.S. pet project. Softbank is playing close to the vest, aside from promising that it has a definite strategy and indicating that it hopes to shake up the U.S. mobile market just as much as it has the Japanese market.

Softbank is known for being a price leader in Japan and for engaging in innovative marketing campaigns, such as its current efforts involving its iconic talking Hokkaido dog and, more recently, Hollywood actor Tommy Lee Jones. Will Oto-san, the dog, or Jones make appearances in Sprint's future advertising? No one will say.

"For now we are not going to reveal any parts of our business plan and/or direction regarding (the) Sprint deal before its closing," Softbank spokesman Mitsuhiro Kurano, told FierceBroadbandWireless.

However, both Kurano and his colleague, spokeswoman Mariko Osada, emphasized that Softbank has big plans for Sprint, big enough to justify a $20.1 billion vote of confidence in what has been a struggling U.S. mobile operator. A look at Softbank's current crop of promotional materials might provide some clues regarding what U.S. audiences could expect as Sprint adopts Softbank's cutting-edge approach to marketing.

FierceBroadbandWireless has created a slideshow exploring some of Softbank's recent marketing moves in Japan, which may hint at future Sprint strategy.--Tammy

Click to view the slideshow.arrow