Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Cute Giant Headed Freak

Hello Kitty (ハローキティ, Harō Kiti), full name Kitty White (キティ・ホワイト, Kiti Howaito), is the best-known of many simply drawn fictional characters produced by the Japanese company Sanrio. Hello Kitty is a friendly white kitty with the head larger than her body, small button eyes and nose, but no mouth. She is said to be five apples tall and the weight of three apples. (Wikipedia, 2007)

I thought that the wikipedia article on Hello Kitty would be more Mushy-Wushy, but gladly I see that the author shares with me the same perspective, that she is a Freak and a media phenomenon.

My first encounter with Sanrios characters was at my late 12 (yes I remember) on a Sunday morning cartoon on TV, from the beginning I didn’t see anything cute on it, just a strange freakish mouthless cat with hydrocephaly, that had the power telepathic powers to communicate.

On collage the first Sanrio store opened in Rio. Then I was able to see how big is the realm of Hello Kitty, ranging from a large array of media platforms such as cartoons, magazines and websites to a whole brand of varied products like purses, wallets, toasters, pacifiers, cellphones, guitars and new fashioned product Netbooks.

This is just to show some aspect how Japan develops brands trough related products, in a lecture done by the creative director of Drill (Japanese Advertising Agency) he showed us 5 different brand strategies, all of them had product development brand experience.

In malls (Depato) is easy to find a lot of toys, clothes, jewelries etc. of different characters such as Jack, from the nightmare before Christmas, Doraemon (he will receive a proper post later on), and a Black and White minimalist pig called Monokuro Boo that was everywhere I went wile I was in Japan.

The question is… Who will be the next fad?

Oh, the illustration above si mine ok, but anyone is free to use

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More info less design

This is a subject that I argued a lot with some friends, that Japanese advertisers don’t care much about design.

If you see products brochures in tech stores is noticeable that is more about exploring specs about the products then alluring the client.

This is easy to understand, Japanese people are the world greatest readers, it’s a cultural thing, they have more printed media then most countries.

Here is a small piece from the 2007  Mapping Media and Communication Research: Japan of the University of Helsinki.

The prototype of the newspaper in Japan was kawabaran or “tile block print,” which first appeared in 1615. Kawabaran were one-page flyers printed using roof tiles of houses as negative prints. They appeared regularly and contained scandalous information on lovers’ suicides, disasters and other sensational events. The first modern newspaper in Japan appeared fairly late in international comparison. The first paper was published in English, in 1861. It was The Nagasaki Shipping List and Advertiser and appeared twice a week. The first Japanese language newspaper appeared in 1862. Thefirst daily newspaper, Yokohama Mainichi was first published January 28, 1871. (Moeran 1996, 7.) Currently newspapers in Japan can be divided into four categories: general newspapers, sportsnewspapers, specialized (often business) newspapers and free papers.
There are five general newspapers with national circulation (zenkokushi): Yomiuri Shimbun (10 million), Asahi Shimbun (8 million), Mainichi Shimbun (four million), Nihon Keizai Shimbun (three million) and Sankei Shimbun (two million). Each of these national newspapers prints two editions every day. (Fujitake 2005.)

Chart 1.1. Largest Daily Newspapers by Circulation

(Shimbun Nenkan ’06-’07, 106-142)
The saturation level of national newspapers is very high in the cities. They also have local editions. However, local newspapers are more popular than the national five in some prefectures, such as Tokushima, Aichi and Hokkaido. (Fujitake 2005.)

There is a historical reason for the current strength of national newspapers. During the militaristic system in the 1920s and 1930s, the government promoted the merging of newspaper companies, especially after the Manchurian incident in 1931. This was because fewer newspapers with larger readerships were easier to control and censor for the government. (Ibid.) Japanese newspapers are mostly delivered to the door, and only a minority of the income of newspapers comes from newsstand sales.
Table 1.2. Largest newspaper companies by turnover (unit: million, 1€ = 157 yen)

(Joho Media Hakusho 2005, 2006, 2007)

Sports newspapers are the equivivalent of the yellow press in the Britain. The content of the sports papers consists of sports, entertainment, leisure, gambling and sex. Recently sports newspapers have moved into  scandal journalism with articles about atrocious crimes, natural disasters, large-scale accidents and social scandals. Major sports newspapers include Nikkan Sports, Sports Nippon, Sankei Sports, Daily Sports, Chunichi/ Tokyo Sports, Tokyo Sports, Kyushu Sports and Chukyo Sports. Most of the sports papers are in corporate alliance with general newspapers. Sports newspapers are sold on the newsstands at train stations. (Fujitake 2005.)

Specialized newspapers and business papers have significantly smaller circulation. The largest business papers are Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (20 thousand), Nihon Nogyo Shimbun (390 thousand), Nikkei Ryutsu Shimbun (270 thousand), and Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (180 thousand). There are three major English language newspapers: Japan Times (50 thousand), Herald Asahi (40 thousand) and Daily Yomiuri (40 thousand). (Ibid.)

Free papers and magazines have been published and distributed in Japan since 1971. They are distributed at stations and funded through advertising only. The largest is Sankei Living with circulation of little over 2 million. The free papers compete with newspapers and sports papers in advertising and readers. (Ibid.)

And to illustrate all this, here is a bizarre website for the Men’s Premium Brassiere, click on it to make a visit

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How is McDonalds helping in Media Convergence

I’ve been following through a Japanese blog called Trends in Japan that always have some good news about how media is used in Japan, and Mc Donalds have been doing some great Breakthroughs.

On May 27th Nintendo, in cooperation with McDonalds, started a new wireless information and gaming service in 21 restaurants around Tokyo. This is part of the Nintendo Spot project to give DS gamers wireless access to the internet on the train and in McDonald’s restaurants.

Different to Europe and America it is hard to find a restaurant or bar in Japan offering a free WiFi hotspot to connect your computer or mobile gaming device to the Web. That is because Japanese usually use their mobile phones to connect to the internet, but also because of security concerns about open networks. Another important reason is that restaurant owners in Japan aren’t interested in having their customers lingering around in the often overcrowded spots in downtown.

mcdonalds ds spot

Also after nearly a year in development, McDonalds Japan has finally released it’s innovative new Kazasu Coupon (Contactless Coupon) loyalty and payment program, beginning with 175 stores and expanding gradually to its 3,800 nationwide stores by 2009.

Kazasu Coupon uses Felica RFID technology installed in most modern Japanese phones to create the first program of this type, allowing customers to choose their meals, redeem coupons, and pay for purchases all with their mobile phones. This is similar to CMode, the vending machine payment/coupon system from Coca-Cola, but with a far greater reach and selection.

kazasu-coupon-mcdonalds-1

To join, customers must download an application to their phones and register via mobile web, allowing them to choose the coupons they like. When making their purchase at McDonalds, the coupon is redeemed by placing the phone near the RFID reader at the register, instantly adding the item to the order. To complete the order, payment can also be done using NTT Docomo’s iD mobile wallet.

Kazasu Coupon has the potential to be a powerful CRM program for McDonalds, allowing them to target coupons and campaigns directly to customer’s mobile phones according to their preferences and purchase history.

kazasu-coupon-mcdonalds-2

While this is still in a testing phase, Kazasu Coupon will likely include more interactive features and downloadable content once it becomes a full-fledged loyalty program and will focus on CRM directly to the pockets and pocketbooks of their customers.

This shows how great are the opportunities media convergence offers to new business and marketing models.

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Time to start a Blog about Japan.

I’m a big fan of Japanese Culture, my Google Reader has over 15 Japanese blog Feeds, all this is research for the MEXT Scholarship I’m planning to under go next year (2009).

My research is about Media Convergence and the its influence on modern Japanese culture.

On the next posts I will share some insights.

Just to illustrate some aspects of modern Japanese Culture, without all “OTAKU” hype, there are some pictures I stooled from the blog Kirai, a great blog about a Spanish geek living in Japan.

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Tokyo 2008

Once again take a look at his blog http://www.kirainet.com it is a TOP 10

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