Tips for a Successful Advertising Campaign in Japan

You gathered information about the Japanese market and created the perfect product? Now, you have to find the best advertising campaign to make it known and to make people buy it. Simply transposing the traditional Western model is not a good idea, so you have to either create a new campaign or adjust your global campaign. But do not worry, here are some tips to success in your project.

Advertisements on TV and Outdoor

Japanese ads are so weird, did you see the SoftBank one with the dog called “daddy”?
Yeah, so strange! And you should watch the Shiseido one too, with high school girls…
Why do they do that??


Yes, Japanese advertisements are known to be “funny”, “weird”, or irrelevant. Still, there is some logic behind them. In America, ads are supposed to be straight to the point and to focus on the product benefits and distinctive features. People are often irritated if it lasts too long, and they want to know what makes the good or service valuable.

In Japan, however, the goal is to create a story around the product which will stick to the consumer’s mind, because of a funny or unexpected element. Humor became usual in Japanese ads with the “owarai boom” (comedy boom), through TV shows implying challenges, games, etc. And when consumers see an item after having watched its comic advertisement, they make a link which will cause a feeling of familiarity. Bingo! Familiarity with the product is essential to establish trust and to sell in Japan.

Another way to reach this goal is to invest in outdoor advertisements, in the form of banners, posters or sorts of stickers. It is one of the most effective and usual means of promoting goods and services in Japan since you can see it everywhere in trains, subways or in the streets. Many potential consumers will see what you have to offer. So now, what should you put into your advertisements to catch their attention, besides showing something funny?

Choose Who (or What) Will Represent Your Brand

In modern-day Japan, choosing celebrities is a good bet to induce a feeling of familiarity in your targets’ minds. Be careful, however, to whom you want to represent your brand, and check whether there is any controversy or scandal around the person. You want to be symbolized by a celebrity who matches the best with your product. Also remember that Japanese personalities appear the most in TV commercials, partly because of the collectivist nature of this society. Once again, the product benefits are less important to show, because it will not create a sense of familiarity as quickly.

If you do not want to pay for a celebrity to represent your brand, however, you can still imagine a mascot character (kyara in Japanese). This is a good alternative since you can make people love the person or animal you created – or any other character, like an alien or the anthropomorphization of your object. It will display the values or symbols you want, and you will not have to worry about any scandal or gossip.

Be Patient!

It can take many years to find the right angle of attack, maybe people’s reaction will not be as you imagined it to be. The Japanese market welcomes new products every day, they can be very innovative but little supported by the advertising campaign. Take your time and analyze the market patiently, do not rush. Try to catch the Japanese sense of aesthetics (with celebrities, visual, music, a good message), to develop your network and to organize events around your product if you can.


But if you want to stack all the odds in your favor, remember that we can help you with your project. Whether you need a strategy or assistance with your new innovative product, we provide value for your new product launch in Japanese Market. We offer Crowdfunding Support and Digital Marketing Services, all under one roof. You can contact us here!
Watanabe, S. (1993) “Cultural differences in framing: American and Japanese group discussions”