While a lot of people (including me) were out of town at this time last month, Levis Japan threw open the doors of a new high-end boutique in the posh Aoyama district of Tokyo.
Showcasing premium Levi's products sourced from their operations worldwide, Cinch offers three collections in the 150 M2 store.
The first line is Levi's Vintage Clothing, which, leveraging Japanese interest in rare and vintage products, gives cash-rich shoppers the chance to buy—amongst other things—$1,500 revival versions of historic jeans models, including a design first sold in 1917 (a Nikkei article says that most items in the Vintage line retail in the $300-400 range).
The latest surprising product from Japan Frito Lay? "Caffeine Snacks."
The variant show at right is Caramel Macchiato--which according to the package is a "corn snack that reproduces the taste of a vanilla café latte flavored with caramel syrup." Not only that, the bag contains about 150 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of about two 120 ml cups of coffee), which will "vitalize your day. . .[because] caffeine increases your performance, concentration and alertness."
In these uncertain economic times, some people may be
willing to try anything to protect their feeling of well being.
In Japan, some "salary men" seem to be taking
cues from a small, but growing number of peers who have found a new way to
maintain a sense of stability as they navigate the treacherous waters of
competitive business and modern life.
How are they doing it? Believe it or not, by seeking support from a new kind of
undergarment known as the "man bra."
No, these aren't transvestites--they're regular guys
who've discovered that wearing a bra makes them feel secure, and moreover,
helps improve their concentration (some overweight men have taken to the
garments to combat "man boobs" as well).
Surprisingly, this is not exactly a new phenomenon.
A couple of years ago, Japan's JR East railway company worked in tandem with Keio University to develop a system to capture energy from the crowds of people that move through Japanese train stations each day. At test locations, special floor panels were installed near turnstiles to convert footstep vibrations to electricity, which was collected to power signboards and use as backup energy at the stations.
Japanese business and the scientific community habitually employ kaizen--the continuous pursuit of incremental improvements--as their modus operendi, and this project is no exception.
According to JR, the current technology, which is in its third iteration, will produce 100 times more electricity than the first version used in 2006. Power collection efficiency, which typically fell up to 33% in previous trials, is expected to drop by only 10% in the most recent test which is underway at Tokyo Station and will continue until early March.
Given creative new approaches like step energy, and skyrocketing worldwide interest in eco-friendly living, I wonder just how far we are from a tipping point in energy creation and use. Just a couple of weeks ago, the New York Times featured an article on German "passive houses" which require no heating and cost only 5-7% more to build than other homes. Given Japan's precarious energy situation, it would be inspiring if the country could continue introducing highly visible initiatives that demonstrate leadership in this arena.
I think it was about a year ago that Pizza Hut Japan introduced a new "double roll" pizza that added filling-injected bread rolls to the crust. At the time, I checked to see if the company was selling this product anywhere else, and as far as I can tell, it wasn't. Here in Japan it was a big hit.
I had lost track of what the brand was doing ad-wise until yesterday, when I came across this spot.
It's a pretty straight-forward execution. No bells, no whistles -- not particularly creative. Nonetheless, it features some sizzle shots that will get some consumers' mouths watering.
On the surface, it would appear that the ad is aimed directly at kids -- which is fairly unusual in Japan for a non-snack product. But on closer review, it may be aiming more broadly.
The adorable twins are sure to resonate with moms and OLS, and since the performers are boys, males can probably identify too. What boy hasn't had a secret hideout or a sign hung on his bedroom door warning "no parents allowed!".
Click the image to see an enlarged version complete with rough translation. See the ad in its entirety here (click the green button below the twins).
It's no secret that Japanese TV commercials heavily rely on the use of celebrities both domestic and foreign, or that it's common to see famous faces appearing for multiple brands during the year (often with ads for different companies airing at the same time).
But which performers are most in demand?
According to data compiled by Japan Monitor, amongst male celebrities, singer/actor Takuya Kimura (a.k.a. "Kim Taku") appeared in the most campaigns (10 different brands), while the most oft used female was model/actress/singer "Becky," who starred in ads for 14 companies.
While Kim Taku's affiliation with 10 different brands is impressive, in actuality he tied former pro tennis player Shuzo Matsuoka for first amongst men, and when tallies for both genders were combined, he was matched by five female performers who were featured in 10 TV ads too.
The true runner-up amongst all celebs was TV and film actress Saki Aibu, who showed up in spots for 11 different brands.