Friday, May 25, 2007
As is the case with any densely-populated area, if there's a bit of space where someone can hawk their wares to the undulating masses, someone will rent it out and plaster a message. The stations, where people stand as a captive audience waiting for trains to arrive with little to do besides stare at their surroundings or peck at their cell phones, are an ideal place.
The sign above was in Shibuya station and I absolutely detest the message it is offering as it is suggesting we identify with the goods we purchase and see them as a reflection of who we are rather than define ourselves by our actions and thoughts. Of course, no one makes money off of our minds and deeds so it's of no interest to business.
I'm not familiar with the card being advertised here but POS is "point of sale" and I'm guessing the point is to get people to use the card to buy a variety of goods including such mundane items as milk and fast food. In Japan, the average credit card debt per person is only $400 whereas the average in the United States is nearly $9,000 per person. The Japanese don't tend to use credit cards all that often and they certainly don't use them for everyday buying. They tend to use them while traveling abroad or when buying big ticket items like computers or televisions and then pay the balance off immediately upon getting the bill.
I think this ad may be attempting to increase the use of credit cards overall in the hopes that the pesky habits the Japanese have of not paying exorbitant interest rates and letting their debt float can be undermined.
Ads are in the trains themselves, too, of course, as the audience is similarly trapped as they are on the train platforms. This is an advertisement for Nova language school (the McDonald's of schools) which is held to the side of the train (just above the windows and doors) by plastic bands. You'll notice there's a number under the ad. I believe there may be different rates depending on what part of the train the ad is placed on. Ads by the doors probably get read more than those at the ends.
During the worst part of the long recession Japan experienced after the economic bubble burst, it was relatively common to find gaps in the ad spots because fewer companies could afford to place such ads. I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually had to lower their rates as the recession wore on. One other thing I tended to notice while the recession was dragging on was that the advertisements which used to feature 80% foreign models started to use more Japanese models. I'm not sure if this was because the foreign models were more expensive or if the zeitgeist had changed such that the Japanese preferred to see their own faces reflected alongside the goods they might purchase.
Peach John gets the award for dumbest English attempting to come across as sexy or desirable both in this ad and on their web site which says "Very Lingerie, Very Dita." I'm not sure what "Dita" means since it has a different meaning in a variety of languages but the one that makes the most sense is a referral to the model Dita von Teese (who is probably the brunette modeling the overpriced undies on the web site).
Any time I see a striking advertisement (one that was obviously created by an ad agency), I consider the intended audience and the efficacy of the message. Sometimes working out who they're attempting to target taxes the old brain box and sometimes it simply whacks it with a hammer. If the model in the schoolgirl uniform isn't enough to make the message clear, the message (you have to click on the small version here and load the big one to see it) makes it crystal (albeit in poor English). Who else would care about tea making them cute but schoolgirls?
This is an ad for a television show which appears to be called "Operation Love" in English and "Propose + something" in Japanese (the characters are largely covered and are highly stylized and hard to read). From the ad's appearance, I'd guess it has something to do with a skinny, androgynous fellow attempting to convince a woman 120% bigger than him to marry him. Either that or that's a woman in drag on the left trying to woo another woman. The graphical design of the ad is so frothy and stylized that I figure the show has to be targeting dreamy-eyed office ladies, neglected housewives with a penchant for romance novels, and pre-teen girls. This leaves me out.
Advertising in Tokyo is not all big, colorful bulletin boards in well-kept areas. In fact, not all of Tokyo is as clean and nice as one might expect. Believe it or not, this is an area I'm intimately familiar with as the record shop at the top of the hill, Yellow Pop, is a place my husband and I frequented back when I was still collecting Japanese KISS releases. I'm not sure what rules, if any, apply to those posting advertising here. It appears that anything goes but there would have to be some organization involved to paste posters up so high on the building. It looks as if one lot of ads are scraped off (badly) just before another goes up and this process is repeated again and again until a horrific mess is made.
This is a focus shot on another grungy area where "live house" (rock club) adverts have been pasted up. You see a lot of these types of things, particularly around or near used record shops though these postings are in front of a club named Chelsea Hotel. This live house is no doubt named such as an homage to the Hotel Chelsea in New York. You find that a lot of places dealing with music name themselves after famous British or American musicians or places famous for music. I'm not sure if this live house is allowing this mess in front for a "cool" look or if they are just indifferent to cleaning it all up. It certainly wouldn't make me feel comfortable going into such a club but I'm a rigid, middle-aged woman, not a hip, young music lover. My priorities are decidedly different from those who frequent such clubs.