Japanese Outdoor Media Innovations

Japan is one of the leading countries in Media Innovations. This is easy to see on the amount of new materials and strategies developed to create media presented in advertising reports and marketing reviews.


A great place to see this innovations are at the Subway that holds a large variety of advertising formats. Such as the one below presented by Japan Marketing News Blog.

Here is a part of the article :

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.

Another great example of using space in the Subway Station and creating some kind of interaction of the brand with the consumers are the gift wall such as used by the Ipod Nano and Canon. (Pictures and info from Ping Mag)

Ipod Nano

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But using the walls are not enough, so why not use every little space to do advertising, here are some examples from Ping Mag also.

The floor:


The pillars:


The ticket gates:


The escalator


And of course inside the subway





But this last one is one of my favorites – a tunnel print animation – incredible.



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Mobile Art

I just this great video from Creative Review about some Mobile Art Movents and I would like to share them with you.

The Pocket Film Festival held in Japan is an event that explores the potential for audio-visual expression that lies hidden in a “practical high-tech toy,” and through various media, aims to construct an ideal method of communication that excites our sensibilities – something not yet obvious even to artists.

Pocket Films Festival is a partnership between the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and the Forum des images of Paris.


Mobile Novels are growing rapidly in japan.

A mobile phone novel typically contains between 200 and 500 pages, with each page containing about 500 Japanese characters. The novels are read on a cell phone screen page by page, the way one would surf the web, and are downloadable for around $10 each. The first mobile phone novel was written six years ago by fiction writer Yoshi, but the trend picked up in the last couple years when high-school girls with no previous publishing experience started posting stories they wrote on community portals for others to download and read on their cell phones.

The Economist says that the growth of mobile novels in Japan noting;

“with sales of books in decline, a new market has come as a godsend to Japan’s publishing companies. Sales of mobile-phone novels—books that you download and read, usually in instalments, on the screen of your keitai, or mobile phone have jumped from nothing five years ago to over ¥10 billion ($82m) a year today and are still growing fast.”

Here are some websites where you can download and create your own Keitai Shousetsu.

But as an evolution Mobile Soap Operas are becoming a fad in Japan also. Here is what the article from Creative Review says.

Production company Voltage special­ises in M-games and M-soap operas. Shooting for half an hour a week, Voltage breaks weekly stories down to five-minute chunks which get downloaded by young girls largely in search of romantic titillation. It claims hits of up to 10K per episode. CEO Tsuya Yuuzi likens the current era to the early gaming industry

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Media Groups

Sometimes people ask me why I want to study Media in Japan, and the answer is U-Japan. Dr. Katja Valaskivi reports about Media research institutions on the Mapping Media and Communication Research: Japan

Considering the vastness of the media industry in Japan, or even the amount of research done in private organizations, the volume of academic research is quite modest, as is the number of doctoral degrees in the field. There are only a few departments of journalism, media studies or communication in universities in the entire country, and they are mainly in private universities.  In many cases faculty members interested in the media work at departments of sociology, political studies, economics, psychology, informatics, anthropology, literature or philosophy, rather than having a department focusing exclusively on media and communication.

Research in media and communication outside the academic community is abundant and rich. Most television companies, newspapers and advertising agencies have their own research units or subsidiaries, which most commonly focus on audience and/or marketing research aimed at developing the business of the companies.

Here are some of the Media research institutes presented in the same report mentioned above.

Japan Society for Studies in Journalism and Mass Communication (Nihon Masu Komyunikeishon Gakkai) was founded in 1951 as the Nihon Shimbun Gakkai, Association of Newspaper Research. Currently it has about 1400 members. There are about 30 companies supporting the association, which publishes an annual journal Masu komyunikeishon kenkyu. The journal publishes theoretically based research on varied subjects written by academic researchers. The association was originally run at the University of Tokyo, but now participating universities take turns in the administration of the ssociation. Currently the office is at the Tokyo Keizai University.

Japan Academy of Advertising (Nihon Kokoku Gakkai) was founded already in 1966. It has currently 622 members and 34 supporting companies. The aim of the association is to do theoretical and empirical research of advertisements and act as a lobbying organization. The supporting organizations include Asahi Shimbun and other newspapers, several advertising agencies and
television companies. The association is coordinated at Waseda University,  marketing Department. It publishes the annual journal Kokoku kagaku (Journal of Advertising Science).

Gendai Fuzoku Kenkyukai does not have an official name in English, but the name can be loosely translated as “Research Association of Contemporary Culture”. The association functions within the framework of sociology and cultural studies and was founded in 1975, inspired by professor emeritus Takeo Kuwabara at Kyoto University. The association focuses on research of contemporary culture, including popular culture, everyday life and media usage and publishes the journal Gendai Fuzoku.

The Japan Society of Information and Communication Research/ JSICR (Joho Tsushin Gakkai) is a foundation. It was founded in 1983 to commemorate The UN World Communication Year. Currently JSICR has 937 individual members and 54 organizational members. The association was founded to encourage and do research on telecommunication from humanistic, social, cultural and political viewpoints. Prior to the establishment of the association, telecommunication was mostly considered just from a technological point of view. In the 1980’s, when faxes and data communication spread into everyday usage, it became necessary to bring social sciences into the analysis. Currently the society focuses on social, political, cultural and economical problems of the information society and globalization of information flow.

The society has seven thematic study areas with respective study groups:
– legal issues in information and telecommunication
– economic issues in information and telecommunication
– information society
– international information
– information culture
– multimedia
– information behavior

The society also holds internal lecture meetings, symposiums and presentations of individual research projects, but also an “International Communication Forum”, with international guests. The association has an independent office in Toranomon, Tokyo. Currently the president of the association is Professor Youichi Ito from Keio University MediaCom. In addition to the annual report Joho tsushin nenpou, the association publishes an academic journal three times a year. The journal is called Joho tsushin gakkai shi.

Japan Association of Social Informatics (JASI) (Nihon Shakai Joho Gakkai) was founded in 1991. It aims at a desirable development of society in the age of information technology, wishing to establish a theoretical approach where the social system is perceived from the point of view of information. It focuses on the relationship between the new information and communication system and the social systems. The themes of interest include:

– the basic theory of social information informatics
– information, economics and the city
– information society, law and security
– media and culture
– communication and social relationships
– local citizens, their activities and ICT
– information systems and social applications
– game, simulation and network analysis

RITE, Research Institute of Telecommunication and Economics (Kokusai Keizai Tsushin Kenkyusho) is maintained by the Foundation for Multimedia Communications. Members of the
foundation include e.g. the Ministry of Communications (MIC), NHK, all major ICT-companies in Japan and several cities and prefectures.
RITE is a semi-public organization and it collects funding from both public and private sources.
The research at RITE focuses on e.g. international comparison of telecommunication and broadcasting laws, social structure and communication technology, new business opportunities and technological innovations in ICT and convergence of multimedia, communication and broadcasting.

There are plenty other Media research institutes and this is not the place to show all of them but to the end this article I have to talk about two of the most interesting research institutes. One founded by NHK and the other by NTT.

NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute (NHK Bunken) (NHK Hoso Bunka Kenkyujo) was founded in 1946 as a comprehensive research establishment of NHK. Bunken conducts
research on audiences, research and development for program-making and programming purposes and research on media-related issues in broadcasting and digital media.
Japan’s Broadcasting Law stipulates that the public broadcaster must conduct research activities along with broadcasting television programs. NHK researches program contents, investigates both Japanese and foreign broadcasting cultures and makes surveys on audience attitudes. The research acts as background information in basic policy-making of the public broadcaster. Bunken makes most of its research results available for the public and publishes several journals.
Bunken also conducts research that refers to media and media usage only indirectly. Every five years NHK conducts “The Survey on Value Orientations of the Japanese”, surveying 5000 people to grasp changes in the people’s attitudes and values. The survey has so far been conducted seven times, and the latest issue is from 2004. Bunken also conducts time budget surveys every five years.
One of the large research areas at Bunken is the research of media language. There is virtually no research on this field done outside Bunken, which means that research on language used in commercial broadcaster’s programs is virtually nonexistent.
Another strong research area at Bunken is media education. It also focuses on international comparisons of different media phenomena, from contents to industrial issues.
Obviously, Bunken also conducts research on the role of public service broadcasting in Japan and in the international setting.
Currently Bunken has about 80 employees, including part-timers. This makes the institute the largest among the traditional mass media company research units and much larger than any university research unit. However, the number of the researchers has been decreasing, as has the number of employees at NHK in general. Most of the employees come to work at Bunken as part of their circulation within NHK, and only a few have academic degrees beyond the usual bachelor level.
However, there are also some researchers who have moved to NHK from universities and some have doctoral degrees.
The publication volume of Bunken is vast. Some of the regular publications include the English journal NHK Broadcasting Studies (previously Studies on Broadcasting), and several journals in Japanese: monthly research report Hoso Kenkyu to Chosa (Research and Surveys on Broadcasting), Hoso Media Kenkyu (Studies of Broadcasting and Media), which publishes critical essays, and NHK Detabukku,Sekai no Hoso (Databook of NHK, Broadcasting in the World).

InfoCom Research Inc. (Kabushiki Kaisha Joho Tsushin Sogo Kenkyusho) was founded by NTT in 1985. It currently has about 95 full time employees, of which 75 are researchers. With this size, InfoCom is the largest think tank in the telecom research area. It does commissioned work for NTT and its different subsidiaries, as well as for different governmental organizations.

InfoCom conducts research on the global development and situation of information and communication industries and does research and analysis on e-commerce and other ICT related markets. It also takes on commissioned work from e.g. local governments for consulting, proposals and formulation of regional ICT plans and conducts consulting of management strategies and information system development. InfoCom has websites and email newsletters, in Japanese, on ICT sector news for registered subscribers. Most of its commissioned work is naturally confidential, but some reports are published on its website. InfoCom publishes the annual data book Information and communication in Japan in English.

And to close this article a picture of the CGM  (Consumer Generated Media) Night conducted by Danny Choo and other Jbloggers and web developers. This meeting of Media Generators has a strenght to become (someday in the future) an important Media Research Institute.


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Do you know U-Japan

U-Japan (Ubiquitous Japan) is a strategy formulated in 2004 by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) to continue the previous Japanese information society strategy (E-Japan).

The aim of the U-Japan strategy is to “make Japan the world’s most advanced IT nation”. The strategy reaches up into the year 2010 and aims mostly at developing wireless infrastructure so that exchange of information would be possible anytime, anywhere and from any appliance. In a technological sense, the question here is of convergence of telecommunication, mobile technology, broadband and digital broadcasting, as well as the development of sensor technologies. As said by Dr. Katja Valaskivi in the 2007:  Mapping Media and Communication Research: Japan. Here is how she describes the strategy:

“The ubiquitous strategy project itself has ambitious and futuristic visions of how ubiquitous technology will change everyday life in the future1. In addition to technology,  the strategy aims at developing applications and supporting citizen’s possibilities for usage of new technology. In practice, most of the visions are already realized: mobile phones with television broadcastings, mobile browsing of the Internet, mobile phones as credit cards, etc.

Reaching the strategical targets of the u-Japan strategy are made easier with the penetration of Internet-compatible mobile phones (currently about 90 percent) and by the cheapest broadband providers in the world. Half of the Internet-compatible mobile phones currently used are 3G.
The u-Japan strategy points the direction for research and development and has an influence on what kind of research is funded in the media and communication field. For instance, since the strategy emphasizes citizen’s abilities to utilize media technology, projects in media literacy and education on media usage are considered important and are also focused on increasingly in research.

Worries about digital divide are also central in the u-Japan development strategy, and research projects involving digital divide and possible ways of diminishing it are underway both in private research institutes (e.g. KDDI research institute) and in universities.”

Click here for the website of the project – U-JAPAN with some videos and different applications.

And here are also some graphics showing how U-Japan works in Commerce and Industry.





U-Japan is one of basis of my research project. Japan is a lab for possibilities in media convergence, developing business models and social/cultural applications.

Below are some videos developed by NTT-DoCoMo with some examples of the Ubiquitous life the strategy is aiming at.


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Video Games & Mobile Ads

Media convergence in Japan is a huge thing, and mobile phones are the main converged media. With we use the the Mobile Phones as Multiple Information Terminalsresearch from NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute we can see that Japanese people are divided in different mobile usage groups.




In the research we can also see that Japanese people consider computers and mobile phones mode indispensable media than the TV. But TV is still the most profitable media.


But with this huge growth of mobile internet access, multi functions appliances marketers and advertisers are always searching for new and creative strategies using this technologies.

Toshiba has recently released an interactive billboard in Akihabara.

Here is some information I took from Pink Tentacle:

“To promote its laptops and showcase digital signage technology capable of utilizing real-time data over the Internet, electronics giant Toshiba tested an interactive digital billboard in Tokyo last weekend that allowed YouTube users and pedestrians with mobile phones to play video games against each other.”

Here is a video of the game play :

“Played on a digital billboard above the entrance to the Yodobashi Camera superstore in Akihabara, each game involved up to six players in a 90-second race to paint squares on a grid and hunt for Toshiba’s cuddly Pala-Chan mascot. Mobile phone players followed the action on the billboard and used the number keys on their handsets to control the game’s paint brushes, while YouTube players on computers used the arrow keys on their keyboards.”

I can’t say if the strategy was a success but it is really an innovative  way of doing advertising and using media convergence. But of course this has a strong cultural relationship with Japanese society.

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Mobile Shopping and Tokyo Girls

Sorry for the long time without updates, I’ve been working a lot, and also, I moved, I’m still in the same apartment but know I have a new room.

I did a small presentation for some people at work about Mobile marketing tools and strategies, we aren’t going to use much of it but the research process was a lot of fun, and are some highlights.

There are nearly 2 billion cell phones worldwide, this is close to number of existing televisons. Television is still the main media in revenue income, but with the growth of mobile technologies such as broadband internet access, e-wallet and multimedia functions (digital TV reception, video and audio players, high quality cameras and etc.) cell phones are close to becoming the most intimate media in the market. And this is a good thing.

To understand why this is important we should take a look at Japan. A research by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication shows that in 2006, there were more people using the Internet on mobile phones than those using the Internet on their computers.

An NHK report says:

“Mobile phones have achieved rapid upgrades and functional diversity. In addition to standard communication functions such as making phone calls and sending e-mail, others such as web searches, music downloading, cameras, games, calendars, calculators, 1seg (one-segment; mobile digital terrestrial television broadcasting service) reception, video reception, and electronic payments for Internet shopping have become the focus of increasing attention. This shift has become more pronounced with the spread of 3G (third-generation) mobile phones, which make possible highspeed, high-volume data transmission. As such, mobile phones have increasingly become “multiple information terminals” used in every imaginable situation in daily life.

Here is a chart from the some report:

Mobile phone use by function:


Here is the link about with the full report – Mobile Phones as Multiple Information Terminals: From the Research Project “People and Media Usage in Japan

But we also have to see how this information can be applied into a real environment. I going use the Tokyo Girls Spring Collection 2009, thank you very much for CScout for the excellent report of the event in English.


Tokyo Girls is an annual event is a semiannual fashion show. The fashion event showcases the seasons fashionable streetwear,  and are modeled by popular various Japanese models. Unlike the regular fashion shows, the event is open to the general consuming public as well as to buyers and journalists, and incorporates charity auctions and live performances by well-known artists. The event is planned and sponsored by Branding Inc, a company which runs girlswalker.com and fashionwalker.com, and the outfits adorned by the models are made available for purchase on the spot through the official website of TOKYO GIRLS COLLECTION.


The detail that makes this fashion show unique is the fact that people can buy the clothes that are shown in the runaway in the event through online mobile shopping service. What does this means? well they found a sustainable way to combine E-commerce strategies with normal fashion shows. Imagine if people started doing this in NY Fashion Week.


The chart below is a survey conducted by Branding Inc that show the growth of teens usage of mobile internet in the last three years.


And just to see how successful is this business model the  organizers of the event , a remarkable 57 million yen  worth of merchandise was sold during the event as users accessed their phones to grab the latest looks as they were first revealed on the catwalk.

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Marui and FRUiTS

I’m not a very fashioned person, but i admire a lot the fashion since presented in FRUiTS magazine (an iconic street fashion magazine) and I got blown away when I read at trends in japan that FRUiTS is producing a retail space in the new Marui department store in Shinjuku. This gave me the idea to talk a little bit about the renewal of the brand Marui, or if you prefer 0101.

The case was presented by Morihiro Harano, creative director at Drill Inc.,   at Dentsu Brazil, and here are some highlights of the presentation.

The main objective was to transform Marui, a popular clothing and fashion retail store in Japan, so they were giving a fashion therapy to Japanese people.



The Capsule logo was placed everywhere in Japan, Banners, front lights, subway posters etc.





This was just a teaser. The real campaign started with capsule vending machines, and the capsules had underwear inside and candy medicine.






The third part of the campaing was the Candy restaurant , that served everything in candy form, it became a huge media sensation.





The fourth part Drill projected huge images in the facade, to indicate that Marui was undergoing a renewal and became a fashion icon store.


Over 100.ooo costumers went to the opening day and on the opening month the store had and average 70.000 visits a day, achieving 120% of the sales goal.

The campaign is considered the most successful ever produced for Marui.

For more info visit Drills web site or click HERE for the PDF with the highlights


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