Rapper salesman Mr Watanabe

February 28, 2011

“Extraordinary, unique, outstanding….”

These words often promise an interesting news story and also they might guarantee success in someone’s job.

Sales clerk Satoshi Watanabe cleans a pair of eyeglasses to display on a rack at an optical store in a shopping district of Tokyo February 24, 2011.  REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Mr. Watanabe, who I happened to find on the street, is an example of these words.

He is a sales clerk in an eyeglass company which has about 2,000 employees and his job is to sell eyeglasses to customers in a shop in one of the busiest shopping districts in Tokyo. His attire is not unique and more like a typical sales person in Japan. His black horn-rimmed glasses and dark-toned suits would remind you of a picture in a company poster of the most diligent employee of the year.

Contrary to his ordinary appearance, he sings rap songs while on duty.

Rapper Salesman Mr.Watanabe by Kim Kyung-Hoon from Reuters Tokyo Pictures on Vimeo.

Even though he performs rap in front of his shop with eyeglass racks instead of on a busy stage against a background, his rap is enough to attract shoppers’ attention.

His self-written lyrics are sales tools to attract patrons who want to look for eyeglasses and potential customers who will remember him and visit the shop later when they need to.

“You just look around.
But you are still welcome.
It’s a sale now.
Big bargain, new products.
We give you a special price…”

The reason he adopted rap as a sales tool was very simple but singing rap was initially challenging to him.

Four years ago, his manager suggested that Watanabe do something different to increase sales. His idea of performing rap was conceived when he happened to go to a karaoke bar with his colleague.

Sales clerk Satoshi Watanabe sings a rap song in front an optical store in Tokyo February 24, 2011. Watanabe began rapping four years ago at different branches of the eyeglass chain store he works at after a manager suggested he try new ways to boost sales. According to Watanabe, the act managed to improve sales initially and he has managed to retain a few loyal customers who remember his act. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

When he listened to his colleague sing a song with improvised lyrics, it struck him that he could adapt this into a new sales method. Despite not having any musical background or experience, he was challenged to try singing rap – without any practice at all. Amazingly this paid off!

His shop’s sales jumped rapidly immediately after he started singing rap and his company gave him the new job title of PR expert. He was invited to other shops to help increase sales with his new-found talents.

Now four years have passed but his company keeps encouraging him to sing rap to increase sales because it has proven to be a good tool to promote the company’s brand image. He has become a famous figure on the street and his biggest reward is the recognition from customers and grateful shop owners.

People look at Sales clerk Satoshi Watanabe as he sings a rap song in front of an optical store in Tokyo February 24, 2011.   REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Be different, be extraordinary, be creative!

That will guarantee success in your job and bring you satisfaction.


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That dude can rap~!

Posted by Nicky1 | Report as abusive

The first time I’ve heard Japanese rap. Great story Mr. Kim. And I’ll take a pair of sunglasses.

Posted by vivpix | Report as abusive

Wow it’s really new! I think other photographers or editors should look at this and learn to try unique things other than just mundane stuffs..
Hope to see other new tries!!

Posted by ayersrock | Report as abusive