The World: Insider's View - Japan

The speed with which advertisers have embraced technology means media that seem new to Westerners are commonplace in Japan, Jeremy Perrott writes.

It is amazing what you take for granted sometimes. Take living here in Tokyo - I mean, if I stand back and just take in some of the things that seem ordinary to me, I realise how cool this place really is.

My train ride to the office is two stops on the Ginza line. During those two stops alone, the media usage of poster is brilliant. A 3-D lenticular beer poster has ice cubes tumbling out at you as it passes by on the station, the beer in the glass swirling just to add that "come drink me now" appeal.

When the train enters the tunnel, a display of 300 light boxes comes alive, all triggered by sensors so I see a silent commercial, like a flick-book version of something I saw on TV last night. I glance at the passengers: most are reading books, playing games on their mobile phones or watching films they downloaded the night before. This scene is everyday and yet it is so amazing to see.

Honda has its showrooms next to our office in Aoyama. There, you can experience everything from its Formula One car to the latest domestic hybrid; its newest agricultural machine to any one of its motorbikes in any category. If you stand in front of Avro, its almost human-like robot, he analyses you and projects his assessment of you on to a wall behind him, showing you your height, weight, body temperature, heart rate and whether you are smiling. All before he delivers you a coffee without spilling a drop.

So what's this got to do with advertising? Well, if advertising is a reflection of all things cultural and a mirror of trends and community attitude, then what is happening in Japan is a massive "heads up" to the rest of the world.

Mobile phones receive your TV, your viral, your personal message from your client or your premium offer as a selected customer. Your mobile is a payment device, a book, even a virtual room with video connect. That is what you have to consider when a client is asking you how to deliver consumer information before he considers TV.

Your outdoor is connected to your mobile. A graphic squiggly square on the edge of most magazines, posters and brochures, when clicked by your mobile's camera, takes you into a website for that client filled with film, virtual tours and sign-ups.

This is expected not by clients, but by the consumer. They have the power and the appetite to devour all that is available and make snap decisions at a close of a mobile phone.

Sitting at a recent forum in London listening to industry leaders talk of what they had discovered as new to them, I realised what was new to some people was already old here in Japan.

- Jeremy Perrott is the executive vice-president, executive officer, executive creative director and regional creative director of McCann Erickson Asia-Pacific.

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