Been so busy these past few weeks I didn't get a chance to mention this ground-breaking new media that appeared on Tokyo trains about a month ago.
Japanese printing companies have started offering advertisers the ability to display moving pictures on paper advertisements.
The above ad announces the debut of a new mascara from Lancome that uses a vibrating applicator brush. The poster is made from electronic paper—a technology that allows paper to be written and rewritten repeatedly. So what you're looking at is essentially a paper poster hanging from the ceiling of a subway train in which the image changes.
Similarly some train stations are now equipped with poster banks for electronic paper ads that can refresh with new images at specific intervals. If you're an advertiser and you rent the space, you can replace the ad whenever you want while sitting right at your office desk, since the wall frames are connected to PHS phone networks that tap into the internet.
The Family Mart convenience store chain uses one of the most memorable signature slogans in Japan. Shown together with the company logo here, the phrase reads "Anata to combi ni, Family Mart" (あなたと，コンビに、ファミリーマート).
The tag line is great because it carries two meanings—depending on how it's punctuated and spelled—and each meaning contributes to building the brand. In Japanese "combi" means "combination" or "team," while "combini" is the word for convenience store. "Anata" means "you," "to" means "and," and "ni" is a particle that can mean "in," "at," or "to," and can also be combined with the verb "naru" to indicate that something "will become."
Loosely translated, here are the two meanings:
Reading 1 A convenience store and you, Family Mart.
Reading 2 [We make] a good team, you [the consumer] and [us], Family Mart.
Gucci isn't the only major foreign brand using QR codes in its Japanese advertising. Puma Japan's magazine ads also use them to nice effect (above ad edited by JMN to show closeup of QR code—click for enlarged view).
Never heard of QR codes? See how this cool technology is being used by other brands.
Earlier this year, Dentsu published its annual facts and figures on advertising spending in Japan. It's probably no surprise to anyone that the spend on Internet advertising grew at a much faster pace than that of any other medium. As the graph shows, the media spend on Internet ads grew 24% from 2006 to 2007, and for the first time, exceeded expenditures on magazine advertising.
As for other media, here's a quick rundown of how spending fell/rose for each:
Despite these developments, it will likely be some time before Internet ads dominate overall spending. In 2007, Internet advertising accounted for 8.6% of total ad/promotion costs, compared with 28.5% for TV commercials and 13.5% for newspaper ads.
If you have any interest in e-tailing, e-marketing, marketing technology or fashion, check this out. An article in last Friday's edition of Women's Wear Daily (WWD)—the must-read daily newspaper of the fashion industry—announced that Polo Ralph Lauren is about to embark on selling its products through cell phones (presumably in the U.S.).
"Taking its philosophy of “merchan-tainment” to a new level, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. is breaking into mobile commerce — m-commerce — incorporating technology that allows shoppers to buy Polo merchandise from their cell phones.
To realize this, the company is incorporating Quick Response Technology codes in its ads, mailers and store windows, which potential shoppers can scan and download on their camera phones. Once scanned, the site m.ralphlauren.com allows a mobile phone user to enter the world of Ralph Lauren — not just by offering the limited edition 2008 U.S. Open collection, classic polo and oxford shirts, chinos, and even the Ricky bag, but also with exclusive video content and a style guide."
A bit further on, the article goes on to say that "Polo is the first luxury retailer to tap into the QR technology, which is already popular in Asia and Europe."
As the piece is written, readers could be forgiven for assuming that Ralph Lauren is somehow out in front of other luxury brands when it comes to cell phone e-tailing and technology adoption. But truth be told, here in Japan, a number of luxury brands have been operating cell phone commerce sites for some time. Open any of Japan's top fashion magazines this month and you'll see that Gucci is using QR codes prominently in its advertising right now—and is using a customized code design, the latest trend amongst design sensitive brands (click on the image for an enlarged view).
If you're new to QR codes, they (and other emerging technologies), can be used by marketers in a number of ground-breaking ways. To see how they're being leveraged as powerful marketing tools in Japan, read thisJapan Marketing News article from early 2007.
If you've ever wondered what Japanese-style supermarket circulars look like, visit Orikomio to find out. Even if you don't read any Japanese, the site is intuitive enough that you can satisfy some of your curiosity just by clicking around. If you don't feel like trying to navigate Orikomio yourself, click on the image at left to see part of a July circular that was distributed by Life Supermarkets.