Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mobile Messaging

As always, click on the images to see a larger version which will be easier to see the detail in.

What do you do in a city where advertising is expensive because of the high population density? You advertise on mobile billboards so that you don't have to rent ad space elsewhere. On the one hand, it's not a bad idea from a marketing viewpoint. On the other, it's wasteful and creates pollution. I'm also guessing that the number of people who may view or read the message is relatively limited compared to static ads on trains or station areas where an immense amount of foot traffic is constantly flowing by. The type of people who see these trucks are either on the sidewalks or in their cars which are areas with less exposure than trains or stations.

When my husband was in Shibuya several weeks back, he caught several different types of messaging by vehicle. The truck at the top of the post is an obvious "moving billboard" which isn't meant to do much more than offer the message. The truck is far too narrow to be meant for carrying much in the way of goods. Upon seeing these types of vehicles, I have to wonder if they are designed in this way to reduce their overall weight (and therefore reduce fuel consumption) or make them easier to drive on narrow Tokyo streets.

Incidentally, I'm almost certain that play on the phrase "we are the champions" is intentional in the advertising above. It's a little too close to be an example of "funny English". If it were strange English, the word "the" very likely wouldn't be included.

This is the back end of one of those bulletin board-type trucks advertising what I'm guessing is a pop group's new release. I don't follow Japanese music at all (except to know that Mr. Children is the most popular group overall among my students and that Super Butter Dog is the coolest name ever for a Japanese band (note to my friend, Shawn, click that link, one of the Super Butter boys has Koss hair!). It's always a bit of a surprise how many Japanese pop and rock stars have English album titles and sprinkle English words in their songs.

This truck is hard for me to read because it's not as clear as it could be and part of the Japanese is covered (and I'm not the greatest reader of kanji). As best I can tell, it's for some sort of Golden Week show ("attraction") but I can't work out the nature of it aside from a cavalcade of celebrities may be appearing. The funny thing about this truck and the reason my husband took the picture is that they put one of those newish bar codes on the back. It seems to serve no useful purpose in advertising the attraction and wastes the space on the back of the truck.

Not all advertising is on long mobile bulletin boards (which strangely bring to mind tall, thin elephants from India). There are the same types of ads you find on buses in New York city and plenty of ads on vans for the companies employing their drivers. My husband took the shot above largely because of the parade of poodles across the back of the bus.

This car was parked near a vegan restaurant in Shibuya. I'm sure this is a standard PETA vehicle design and I'm also sure it has limited impact on the Japanese. They aren't great endorsers of animal rights. One of the textbooks my company created included an article about "screaming prawns" which was about how prawns were slowly flayed and eaten alive for maximum freshness at a Japanese restaurant. Anyway, it's nice to see that the PETA people are embracing their ideals so strongly that they frequent one of the rare Japanese vegan establishments.

My husband took this shot for the comedic value of the name. I honestly had no idea what the deal was with the name but some research turned up the fact that this is a warehousing and logistics business which offers special storage conditions including temperature and humidity control. One of the reasons there is a wine glass incorporated into the company logo is that wine is one of the types of items that require special handling when moving and storing it. The best guess on the derivation of "reefer" is it may be derived from "refrigerated" but this is by no means certain since the company is not only offering refrigerated logistics services. My guess is they are oblivious to the implications of the name.

Speaking of being oblivious to the implications of a name, this sign (visible above the truck in the previous picture) looks like a dyslexic obscenity (trademarked no less!) but closer inspection reveals it to be an unfortunate abbreviation.

Incidentally, my husband has my camera in the States with him so this is an excellent time to start unclogging my backlog of the interesting shots he took in Shibuya between my usual posts musing about life.


YETTE said...

mobile billboards have also hit the streets of manila. even the MRT is not spared from these advertisements. maybe some companies think it's lucrative because of all the commuters and traffic here. unlike the trucks used in japan, the ones in manila are vehicles with just the billboard on them. such a waste...

nice photos, by the way. =D

tornados28 said...

FCUK is here in the US so it is not just some improper Japanese translation or ad.

At quick glance though it does look like something else.

lostinube said...

Oh, We Are the Cham-Pon is definitely on purpose. Check out their commercials.

andrew said...

I hate those stupid bar codes too, but they serve an interesting purpose.

You can use your cellphone to take a picture of it, and it will automatically download the ad to your phone...strange..

here is an annoying ad about this 'feature'.

ThePenguin said...

"French Connection UK" is (or was) a British fashion company who chose their name very deliberately. Caused a lot of controversy when they started out, during the late 1980s, but it seems to have had the desired effect.

That's the difference between "Engrish" (created by people who don't know better) and a deliberate play on words (created by people who do).

(Apologies for posting to such a non-recent post but I thought it worth mentioning).


Shari said...

Since you say "was", I guess they're out of business now?

Honestly, I think that making such a choice which can be seen as overtly vulgar isn't really the best one in the long run. Mind you, I'm all for freedom of choice and expression but I wouldn't invest my cash in a company that deliberately chose such a play on words.

ThePenguin said...

No, they're still in business, I've just no idea whether they're a pure UK company or have been acquired by some international congolomerate. These things change so quickly, and as I haven't lived in the UK for a long time, I've lost track.

In fact that very banner pictured (just off Omotesando if I recall correctly) was the first time I've encountered the name for some years.