Apr 10

Crime series ad turns Shibuya station into record storage facility

crime series, advertisement, shibuya

Crime series advertisement in Shibuya

This is an advertisement for a crime drama TV series by Asahi Television called 警視庁 (keishi chou) 失踪 (shissou) 捜査課 (sousa ka)” which in English is “The Metropolitan Police Missing Persons Investigation Section.”
This advertisement spreads across a series of public daily lockers found in JR Shibuya station in early April to promote for the series premiere on Friday, April 16th.

The individual lockers of one area of the station  have been made to look like government or police case record storage boxes with a label on each marking the details of a particular case. Some of the cases have 未解決 (mikaiketsu) “UNSOLVED” stamped in red across the label.

On the floor right in front of the lockers are what appear to be files and case records scattered all over, as if someone was going through the files and dropped them all over the floor.

In between each bank of lockers is a large poster that makes the space look like an aisle between the file boxes on storage racks in what looks like a file storage room, with characters from the show/movie standing between the racks.

The space where these posters are placed is usually the main surface for advertising posters, but in this case they are using almost everything surrounding the locker area as part of an advertisement that spreads across lockers and onto the floor.

Mar 10

Hugh Jackman cuts a Japanese beer commercial

hugh jackman asahi super dry commercial screenshot

A screenshot of Hugh Jackman's Asahi Super Dry TV commercial

The internationally recognized Australian actor, Hugh Jackman, well known for his portrayal of the character Wolverine in the hit movie series “X-men” (based on the comic book series), and also “Sexiest Man Alive” according to People magazine (2008) has a Japanese television commercial for Asahi Super Dry beer.

The commercial shows Jackman and a couple other men dressed in business suits running up stairs to a rooftop heliport to greet an older male (presumably a higher ranking executive). After Jackman shakes the older man’s hand, a voice over says what loosely translates into “High class is dry taste”.  Typographics in Japanese kanji “辛口” (Dry taste) appear on screen, which is then followed by what appears to be a rooftop beer party. Watch the commercial on the link below.

Note – Contrary to popular belief, a commercial featuring Jackman dancing in a lobby, rooftop, and elevator of a hotel (which appears to be in Japan, based on katakana and kanji appearing in the commercial) for Lipton teas is not an actual Japanese commercial. Also note, that he is slated to start filming the movie Wolverine 2 in Japan sometime in the near future, if not already.

See the Hugh Jackman Asahi Beer commercial here via YouTube

Nov 09

World Series MVP Matsui on Fire with advertising blitz

Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees was just named MVP of the 2009 World Series after winning the championship, in the new Yankee Stadium. But the baseball star, also known as “Godzilla” is also big in Japan as some sort MVP of advertising celebrity icon as this advertisement billboard, one of a whole series of ads for Kirin’s FIRE brand of coffee, shows. This ad says in the main copy “ボデイが強い。(bodei ga tsuyoi)” which translates as “A strong body” in referring to the “body” of the coffee while also referring to Matsui as well as the silouette of the king of all monster movies himself, Godzilla. The copy on the right reads ”10年目のNew Fire” which translates as “A New Fire of the decade” followed by “直火仕上げ (jikabi shiage) directly translated says “Finished by flame” but probably means “Fire Roasted”.
This series of Matsui Kirin “Fire” coffee advertisements can be found on billboards, the side of buildings, posters inside train cars, magazines and other published media as well as tv commercials and has been used since the tail end of August, throughout Japan.

The concept is that this new FIRE coffee has a strong and bold flavor for strong and bold men (the TV commercial address the men of Japan with the classic Godzilla theme song playing in the background) On an interesting sidenote, Matsui’s jersey number, which he has had from his professional league days in Japan to his current stint in New York, has always been 55, which in Japanese can be read as GoJu Go or Go Go (five five). Coincidentally the rock band Blue Oyster Cult had a hit song in the mid-70’s based and titled after the monster “Godzilla” where the chorus of the song was “Go, Go Godzilla”. But whether Matsui is selling or swinging, you can bet he is hoping for a “monster” hit.
Japanese advertising frequently use non-Japanese celebrities and popular media figures, as a quick search on YouTube or google for that matter will reveal. Others who have appeared in Japanese commercials and advertisements are Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Tommy Lee Jones (also selling coffee), Jennifer Lopez, Catherine Zeta Jones, Robert DeNiro, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Gere, to name but a few. Japanese commercials, supposedly pay as high as a Hollywood film for big name stars.

Apr 09

Scan Marketing with “Barcodes”

2 barcodes

Barcodes for scan advertising

As I mentioned in another post, barcodes are frequently used in Japanese marketing and advertising campaigns. In fact, they appear so much that most cell phones in Japan are equipped with a barcode reader that scans a barcode and sends the viewer to a special website regarding the product or service of the advertising.

Japanese barcodes do not look anything like the barcodes I know back home in the States. The barcodes in the States are usually found on packaging and product tags and they usually consist of thick and thin black lines with numbers. Here in Japan what they call a barcode is usually a grid of black and white “pixels” or boxes in what could easily be a square grid of 150×150 pixels and resemble some insane crossword puzzle. There are boxes (each probably taking up 25 x 25 pixels) in each corner except for the bottom right.

These barcodes are often found on printed advertisements in magazines, flyers, brochures, posters, and even billboards. A billboard barcode is usually just a huge barcode with little information regarding the service. The person would just aim the barcode reader (usually used in conjunction with their cell phone camera) and position the special reading “grid” until the cell phone automatically snaps the barcode and leads the reader via their cell phone web browser to the target link of the advertised product or service.

These barcodes make it easy for people to register for certain services or memberships for special product or brand name discounts. For example, I used a barcode to sign up for McDonalds discount club that emails e-coupons to my cell phone which I show or read off a special coupon number at a McDonalds restaurant to get discounts.

The photo on top shows a billboard barode for Weblio an online dictionary, encyclopedia and grammar reference site. The Japanese kanji reads “mizou?” which means “unexpected, unprecedented”. The bottom copy reads as “The dictionary site that makes words more fun/interesting.” This advertisement was poking fun at a slip up by the current Japanese PM Aso who mispronounced the word, apparently something he does on a frequent basis.

The bottom neon sign barcode snapped in the Shibuya Station “ramble” crossing for transcosmos group, a specialized IT service offering everything from digital marketing to investment and business development.

Mar 09

Repetitive ads go down easier with a spoonful of sugar

Mitsui sugar ad poster

Mitsui sugar ad poster

I don’t recall seeing this practice much back in the States, but in Japan they love to plaster walls with the same exact advertisement poster. It wouldn’t be uncommon to walk around town spotting walls of the same ad covering a whole wall. They also do this with TV commercials where they show the same commercial right after the first one finishes. Sometimes the commercials are slightly different, but often times not. It almost feels like a glitch in the Matrix. Like a glitch in the Matrix. You get the point.

This is an ad for Spoon brand sugar. To me this advertisement almost looks like a retro 1960’s style fashion ad, but then again maybe I’ve just been watching too much Mad Men lately. These ads were posted in Yokohama station for the Toyoko line. The copy next to the woman’s head reads “Sugar has always been Spoon brand.”(お砂糖は、ずっと、スプーン印). The copy below the central spoon logo reads “Thanks to you, Spoon is celebrating its 50th anniversary” (おかげさまで、スプーン印は50周年). Below that in English it reads “Sweet Smile with Spoon Sugar.” with a 50th Anniversary logo. (FYI- Did I mention the use of English or “Engrish,” in advertisements and packaging is a popular trend in Japan.) Bottom left shows what I think is the packaging and next to it is a some type of give-away campaign they have going on with a link to the corporate website for Mitsui Sugar which I am guessing is the parent company of the Spoon brand.


Oct 08

Berlitz English class transit advertisment inside trains of Tokyo

berlitz english course train advertisement

berlitz english course train advertisement

I’ve seen this advertising poster on trains running from Shibuya and Yokohama for a while now. It features four, rather serious looking men facing a man, who is visible only from the back. It looks like they are interrogating him.

The ad’s main copy says, “When suddenly asked a unanticipated question, at a meeting conducted in English, my mind went blank.”(英語で会議、突然、想定外の質問されて 頭の中が真っ白になった。)

Below the photo in smaller copy it says, “Check your English proficiency level, right now at the Berlitz website.” (今すぐ、ベルリッツのサイトで、あなたの実践力をチェック。) followed by a web address.

The tagline copy next to the Berlitz logo reads as “Making your English practical.” (英会話に実践力を。)

This advertisement somewhat reminds me of propaganda posters. To me it reads as…

“English. Without it, you are doomed.”
“Check to see your chances of survival are, RIGHT NOW.”
“Berlitz. Empowering with English.”

Oct 08

Axe chocolate scent for men advertising in Japan

Axe bodyspray Wanted poster advertisement poster Chocoman

Axe bodyspray Wanted poster advertisement poster Chocoman

Axe body spray has a new Chocolate body scent. The ads posters that I found posted in Shibuya near Tower records were designed to look like a “Wanted” poster featurning a grinning and if you ask me, a somewhat creepy face of a Chocolate boy and behind him some cleavage.

A whole wall was plastered with these posters. It is a pretty commmon practice in Japan to fill a whole wall with the same exact ad. (FYI- This practice is also done with TV commercials on occasion when they play the same exact commercial one after another. )

The copy reads as follows:
WANTED (in big bold letters)
Chocoman (in Japanese katakana チョコマン; in much smaller letters above the photo of the grinning Chocoman)
Reward undecided. (賞金変動中; With a 7 digit line of question marks lined up preceded with a Yen sign.)

Below that in smaller copy it suggests that the viewer scan a “barcode” with their mobile phone:
The first step in obtaining reward (賞金獲得の第一歩 with an arrow pointing to a Japanese cell phone scan barcode).

These mobile/cell phone barcodes are a pretty common site on a lot of advertising in Japan. It usually offers some benefits in the form of discounts, samples, and other rewards simply by scanning the code and entering you cell phone email.
The barcode itself isn’t really a barcode, but more of a square grid resembling a digital inkblot.

This ad campaign also features TV commercials which appear to be exactly the same as the one shown outside of Japan (North America, etc.) featuring a chocolate man walking around being chased and randomly bitten by females in his vicinity.

Oct 08

Japanese advertising: the gentle art of hardcore product and service marketing

With Japanese culture being popularized in countries outside of Japan, I figured maybe some people might be interested in what type of printed advertisements and ad campaigns are being used within Japan. To me, it seems that Japanese companies have their marketing down to a science. Their advertisements often contain lively graphic designs, cartoonish characters, and cute images that it is hard not to stop and take notice of many of these ads. Although the english or “engrish” used in many of these ads can often be unintentionally hilarious, the messages can often leave an impact on the passerby.

Within this site, I will snap photos of popular ads and explain the contents of the advertisement itself.

Sometimes I will have a detailed translation of the ad, other times translations may be a bit looser.

In any case, most of these ads will be fun to look at.

I welcome submissions of ads and translations as well. (In order to keep things in somewhat of an order, I will keep an eye on all submissions, so let’s keep it somewhat clean, folks.)