YO! Sushi and Disney look to further business objectives with partnership

Disney UK and YO! Sushi have partnered in a deal that will attempt to further Disney’s social responsibility efforts and YO! Sushi’s growth plans ahead of a mooted sale for the sushi chain.

YO! Sushi is looking to expand its customer base and target children by introducing a healthy kids menu of six bento boxes which will launch in early January in the UK.

The menu is inspired by Disney’s new animated film Big Hero 6 which is set in fictional “San Fransokyo” and has a strong Japanese influence.

The chain says it is a “significant” investment and the biggest collaboration it has entered into of its kind to date.

Kate Crossfield, marketing manager for YO! Sushi told Marketing Week, “We’re thrilled to welcome the next generation of YO! Sushi customers through our doors,” reflecting the chain’s efforts to target new customers and occasions. Earlier this year, the chain launched a campaign in an attempt to appeal to kids, and has trialed a breakfast offering in airports.

The deal comes alongside news that the sushi chain has appointed Liz Norris, former global marketing director for Le Pain Quotidien, as its first creative brand director, with an aim to drive growth for the chain both in the UK and internationally.

The company, which was founded in 1997 and was the first to bring Japanese “kaiten” sushi bars featuring conveyor-belt style sushi to the UK, expanded to the US earlier in the year in an effort to increase its value ahead of a potential sale.

Owners Quilvest, an equity firm, are reportedly seeking a buyer for the chain, which is believed to be valued at around £120m.

YO! Sushi currently has 87 restaurants worldwide – 76 in the UK and 11 across Dublin, Norway, Bahrain, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and in the US.

For Disney, the deal is part of a push to use its assets in social responsibility campaigns.

In June, the company lent its famous Mickey Mouse and Sully characters to Public Health England’s anti-obesity Change4Life drive.

Disney also recently launched the “Star Wards Rebels Kids’ Pak” in Subway restaurants as a way to offer lower fat and healthier choices for kids, having used this strategy with children’s films in the past.

Anna Hill, chief marketing officer for Disney UK and Ireland, told Marketing Week, “As part of our global commitment to inspire families to lead healthier lives, working with carefully chosen partners in this space is part of our approach.”

The deal was developed by Disneymedia+, the integrated ad sales, promotions and marketing solutions arm of Disney UK & Ireland.

YO! Sushi will push the partnership through a co-branded TV, digital, PR, social media and in-store campaign across its 76 YO! Sushi restaurants in the UK, while both the restaurant chain and Disney will run teasers on their social and online platforms.

The film will be released in UK cinemas 30 January 2015.

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