SURVIVAL OF THE CUTEST: How LINE was born from the Tsunami disaster


Born after the 2011 Tsunami disaster in Japan, the popular chat app “LINE” has attracted more than 200 million users faster than Facebook with a anime-blend of cute stickers plus the benefit of free online communication.

Now, the company behind LINE has fortified its social media campaign to promote the app in emerging nations like the Philippines to sustain its meteoric growth rate and hit the 300 million-user mark worldwide before the end of 2013.

The company, a unit of South Korea’s NHN Corp (which also runs the Naver search engine in Japan), created the LINE app after the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that struck northeast Japan in March 2011 disrupted phone lines across the country.

NHN Japan employees, forced to turn to the Internet to reach each other, decided to develop LINE, which launched in June 2011.

While it took Facebook more than three years to reach 58 million users from its launch in 2004 to 2007, LINE reached 50 million users in just over a year.


LINE Philippines’ online campaign will target Filipino users (including OFWs living abroad) via various social media networks, and is led by leading digital PR specialists PR Asia Worldwide via its social media network management unit INTERXN. NHN Korea has also turned to television commercials to promote the app locally, using talents Jessy Mendiola and Matteo Guidicelli (created by advertising giants A. Saatchi Phils).

LINE allows users to text and call from their smartphones using the existing data plan so users can communicate via WiFi and not be charged for the call. It has topped Apple Inc’s App Store rankings for downloads in 24 countries worldwide.

To distinguish itself from other communication apps, LINE offers its own games like BUBBLE and POP, a camera app, a timeline platform that looks like a cross between Twitter and Facebook, as well as brand and celebrity official accounts.


LINE is best known for its “stickers,” original emoticons, like the popular pair called CONY & BROWN, that users can send each other in a LINE chat when words fail. Emotions are conveyed easily by just the click of a sticker.

The original stickers Cony (rabbit), Brown (bear), Moon (character) and James (male personality) are free, but users can pay an extra $2 for premium stamps for characters coming from companies like Disney and Marvel.

Japanese pop culture’s fascination with the concept of cute, or “kawaii,” plays well in other Asian countries and some characters like Hello Kitty have gained popularity worldwide. The concept of “cute” seems universal in language. Thus, LINE is also popular for the stuffed doll versions of its original sticker characters.

In a statement, NHN hopes that LINE can become a marketing tool for the rest of their divisions by tying users into its search and gaming platforms.

To DOWNLOAD, visit: or like LINE Philippines on Facebook

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1 Comment

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