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“Dancing old man” videos go viral as advertisement for a taxi company

Takafusa Mizoguchi is giving a lot of rides to many people these days, but not in one of his company's taxis.

Instead, he is causing a stir on TikTok with videos in which the 60-year-old wears a short tie and dances comically to the music while shaking his beer belly.

Clips featuring the strange dancer uploaded to the video-sharing social media site are going viral.

The “dancing old man,” as he is called, from Hachioji in western Tokyo is a director of the Yokohama-based taxi company Sanwa Kotsu.

His videos leave a lasting impression on the viewers of his performances and help to promote the taxi company. In addition, they serve as a means of recruiting new employees.

Make the company name known

Sanwa Kotsu started putting video feeds online about 10 years ago.

Sanwa Kotsu, like other taxi companies, is suffering from a shortage of drivers and an aging workforce and has launched a new campaign to promote its name among young people and attract them to the company.

Takafusa Mizoguchi dances to a hit song with Kozo Morishima in the background. (From TikTok)

Sanwa Kotsu initially posted his videos primarily on YouTube, showing employees trying extremely spicy food, playing a video game and doing other things that had nothing to do with taxis, all with pain-contorted expressions on their faces.

The time-consuming editing of the footage meant that it often took several days from shooting to uploading. In addition, the clips often did not get as many views as expected.

Sanwa Kotsu chose TikTok five years ago because the platform made it easy to share 15-second videos and had proven particularly popular among young people.

Mizoguchi uploaded feeds that showed himself dancing in the same style as posts by younger users. The teens apparently saw something new in the videos featuring an older dancer, which contributed to a rise in views.

After seeing the positive response, Sanwa Kotsu was also inundated with positive comments such as, “This old man is adorable” and “I want to touch his belly.”

“I was already hurt by insulting messages calling me a 'fatso,'” Mizoguchi recalls. “But the many kind comments on TikTok gave me new energy.”

VIDEO IS VIEWED OVER 9 MILLION TIMES

Kozo Morishima, 60, a senior executive at the company's Hachioji branch, also appears in the videos, as Mizoguchi frequently works at the regional branch there.

Sanwa Kotsu’s official TikTok account has 230,000 followers.

The most-watched clip of it was released last fall and shows Mizoguchi performing a dance maneuver as if he were gliding across the floor. It has been viewed 9.3 million times.

The popularity of his footage led to Mizoguchi appearing in a music video by famous dance and singing unit Da Pump in 2020.

Knowing Hiromi, a local television personality, Mizoguchi also received an offer to appear on television. Since then, he has made clips with show business celebrities on more and more occasions.

Sanwa Kotsu estimates that the advertising effect of his social media campaign was “worth over 500 million yen ($3.2 million).”

Videos to be uploaded, including those posted on weekends, are filmed during breaks and after business hours for approximately 10 minutes. They are shot without rehearsal.

The advantage of this style is said to be that Sanwa Kotsu “can appeal to a wider audience with less cost or delay.”

As expected, the impact of this measure was most evident in the Group’s recruitment program.

VIDEOS PAY OFF FOR NEW HIRING

Currently, applicants are more likely to justify their application in job interviews by saying that they “found your company interesting after watching videos” and would “like to appear as an employee in videos”.

In 2021, a total of 24 new graduates joined Sanwa Kotsu, eight times the number in 2005 when the company began recruiting among graduates. Currently, about 10 such people are hired each year.

At the beginning of this year, working regulations were tightened to limit drivers' overtime, which was expected to exacerbate the shortage of professional drivers.

However, in the 2023 fiscal year, which ended in March this year, a total of 491 employees joined Sanwa Kotsu through mid-career recruitment across all eight branches, twice as many as in the previous fiscal year.

The average age of drivers at Sanwa Kotsu is now 45 years old, more than 10 years younger than before 2019.

The taxi company had been offering unique programs, including “a tour of enchanted places.” In January this year, it launched a tour accompanied by Mizoguchi.

As part of the newly offered tour, participants visit Mizoguchi's favorite places. They can also record videos with Mizoguchi to post on TikTok. Some of the new employees had already taken the tour.

Although he was known as the “dancing old man,” Mizoguchi had never learned this type of physical performance in school.

As a young man, Mizoguchi, with his ducktail hairstyle, danced to rock'n'roll simply for fun.

Two years ago, he attended a dance class for a month. But he soon found it difficult to continue dancing at school given his age.

Despite all this, Mizoguchi remains highly motivated.

“Many taxi drivers are retiring due to age,” he said. “I will do everything I can to attract even more attention from young people in order to further rejuvenate our workforce.”