Letter from Japan 1: product placement

Subliminal ad: buy an
Abercrombie and get a cat?
From our friend and colleague, one-time guest Kat and Class 46 trade mark blogger Laetitia Lagarde comes the first of an occasional series of blog posts from Japan, where she is spending some time.  These posts will emerge, with luck at the rate of around one a fortnight till Laetitia finds herself back on European soil.  Here's her first offering, on product placement:
"This guest Kat is currently exploring the land of Hello Kitty™ where she has to dig her claws into local IP regulations or, sometimes, the lack thereof. Constantly surrounded by advertisements (even on metro door handles) typically displaying bright neon colours, she was keen to investigate the topic of product placement and, much to her surprise, discovered that in the land of anime and product merchandising idols, there are no legislative provisions to regulate this area.

This practice originated from the US – where entire shows like Madmen embrace the concept - and in Europe, where it is officially defined by the Audiovisual Media Services Directive 65/2007 as
“any form of audiovisual commercial communication consisting of the inclusion of or reference to a product, a service or the trade mark thereof so that it is featured within a programme, in return for payment or for similar consideration”, although each member state continues to implement its various unique restrictions”.
In Japan, no such sui generis regulation exists. In similar fashion to other jurisdictions, misleading advertisements and advertisements that misrepresent the quality of goods and services are prohibited under Japan’s Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations (UPMRA) or the Japan Unfair Competition Prevention Act (here). The use of “subliminal techniques” and advertisements relating to tobacco and alcohol consumption for minors are also prohibited in Japanese TV broadcasting, although there is no specific regulation regarding surreptitious advertising and product placement. This doesn’t apply to movies where, for example, one of the most famous scenes in Lost in Translation promotes Suntory  – which, it turns out, is not just a whiskey brand as discovered in the ubiquitous vending machines here.

In Japan many animes have included brands either as original or as parodies which do not fall within the realm of unlawful advertisement. More recently the Tiger & Bunny anime has achieved product placement through superheroes: each works for a sponsor company and their uniforms contain advertising for real-life companies.

Brand owners know that product placement allows them to build goodwill and brand awareness, even if studies seem to reach the conclusion that the actual impact on the consumer differs according to countries and cultures (see this comparative study). Significantly, this year’s MARQUES annual conference theme is psychology and brands: sometimes it might not be necessary for brands to pay for their actual contribution to obtain the same gain as the officially placed products".
For involuntary product placement and generic brands click here
Top 40 product placements in movies here 
For reverse confusion on cartoon brands to the real world click here 
Letter from Japan 1: product placement Letter from Japan 1: product placement Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, June 21, 2015 Rating: 5

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