Selling government bonds is hardly a glitz and glamour business, especially in this era of ultra-low interest rates and weak demand in most countries. Japan, one of the developed world’s more indebted nations, has come up with a solution in its bid to help sell $34 billion in bonds this year.
It is enlisting its country’s hottest pop stars, all 90 or so members of the teen girl band AKB48. The group, whose name is derived from a district in Tokyo called Akihabara, will reportedly pitch Japanese reconstruction bonds—money raised will go to areas damaged by the tsunami. The group, with its signature short skirts and knee-high socks, may raise more eyebrows than actual bond sales, but there is no doubting AKB48 is a hot commodity, with broader appeal than just a female teen fan base.
The band has already appeared in a number of commercials pitching everything from candy to cellphones and has racked up $200 million in music sales across Asia.