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Commercials and advertising

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Commercials and advertising

Postby keatonatron » Wed 07.16.2008 12:41 pm

This is a two-part post, the first part is a little off topic but something I noticed a while back and have been meaning to write about.

There has been a long-standing problem of Japanese people having a hard time remembering URL's, because they are written in English/romaji. If the URL contains an English word, visitors would have to remember how to spell it (a weakness most Japanese people have), and sometimes the URL's are romanized forms of katakana English. If it's a Japanese word, visitors have to remember which form of romanization is being used.

A few years ago, there was a little push for URL's written in native Japanese (e.g. www.漢字.com). It didn't catch on very well though. The feature hasn't been enabled on cellphones, and no advertising has taken advantage of it.

A few months back, someone thought up a solution to the problem and it caught on like wildfire: Google.

Well, all search engines really... but "Google" sounded cooler. Instead of hard to remember URL's, commercials and advertising now simply show what you have to type in to a search engine to get their website to come up as the first hit. It's amazing how popular this method is, it seems like every single URL has been replaced in all current commercials, billboards, and poster ads. Not surprisingly, it seems like none of my friends have any URL's memorized. If they want to go to youtube.com, they open the computer's start page, type in "youtube", hit search and click the first link. I've even seen people type "yahoo" into the search box on their MSN-based start page because they wanted to use yahoo to search for something!

Anyway, this brings me to the main purpose of this post. Today at school, (film school in Tokyo, remember?) a copywriter came to talk to us about creating commercials, and he said something very interesting. Before the internet, commercials were there to give out information. If you look at commercials from the 50's and 60's, they talk extensively about how their products work and what benefit you get from them. But now that we have the internet, which provides all the information you need, commercials are now simply a way to get your name out there and to make people attracted to your product. If you look at modern commercials (here in Japan, anyway), it's really quite true. Commercials rarely give any specific information about their products, they instead show people enjoying their product, say it's new and then show the universal "search bar" logo with their company or product name and expect the consumers to look it up if they're interested.

Obviously Western commercials have been similarly affected by the internet, but I don't think it has been to the same extent as things have changed here. I haven't seen any American TV commercials recently, but I remember last time I was in the States, those commercials that show animations of mouthwash killing bacteria or diagrams of face soap cleaning out and shrinking your pores were pretty common.

Anyone who still watches American TV care to comment?
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby two_heads_talking » Wed 07.16.2008 1:50 pm

keatonatron wrote: If you look at modern commercials (here in Japan, anyway), it's really quite true. Commercials rarely give any specific information about their products, they instead show people enjoying their product, say it's new and then show the universal "search bar" logo with their company or product name and expect the consumers to look it up if they're interested.

Obviously Western commercials have been similarly affected by the internet, but I don't think it has been to the same extent as things have changed here. I haven't seen any American TV commercials recently, but I remember last time I was in the States, those commercials that show animations of mouthwash killing bacteria or diagrams of face soap cleaning out and shrinking your pores were pretty common.

Anyone who still watches American TV care to comment?


Well, from my point of view, I think US television commercials are having an identity crisis. There are still commercials that explain their product (although infomercials are replacing commercials for this effort). And there are many that just put the name out there and you can do further research if the commercial catches your fancy.

I don't believe US commercials have even come close to the "randomness" that seems to be behind Japanese commercials. The ones I remember, and granted it's been over 5-6 years since I have seen a current Japanese commercial. The commercial opens up with a person lathering up in a shower, then enjoying time on the beach and finally sitting down to dinner. Then the product name would be mentioned, but nothing showed.. Then I would wonder what in the hell the product was.. (In this case it was a new scent of air freshioner)


So, we still have, diagrams and animations. "We work hard, so you don't have toooooooo."

http://www.automaticshowercleaner.com/



The Scrubbing Bubbles commercial shows a woman in a bathroom turning on the cleaner. Immediately after pressing the button and walking away a bunch of maids who seemed to have taken the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible class begins tumbling in like they are in an action movie and proceed to scrub the shower until it glistens. A voice over tells the audience that this is how clean your own shower will be if you buy the Scrubbing Bubbles shower cleaner.

http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=1295293172&channel=203885531 (here is the commercial)

I hope that helps some.
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby Wakannai » Wed 07.16.2008 3:44 pm

keatonatron wrote:
Well, all search engines really... but "Google" sounded cooler. Instead of hard to remember URL's, commercials and advertising now simply show what you have to type in to a search engine to get their website to come up as the first hit. It's amazing how popular this method is, it seems like every single URL has been replaced in all current commercials, billboards, and poster ads. Not surprisingly, it seems like none of my friends have any URL's memorized. If they want to go to youtube.com, they open the computer's start page, type in "youtube", hit search and click the first link. I've even seen people type "yahoo" into the search box on their MSN-based start page because they wanted to use yahoo to search for something!


I see this backfiring sometime soon. Squatter pages are already common with URLs, jdic had a squatter page for a few months at http://www.wwwjdic.org. For a long time http://www.whitehouse.com was a porn site. It looks like the government finally took action because it's not anymore. But using google will make it easier for squatters not harder. All they have to do is play with their meta tags to steal page hits from the competition.

And that's not even including the really bad squater pages that put the entire dictionary practically in their meta tags to steal hits. Luckily, most of those are porn sites and get filtered out, but not always. That twit that was using TJP's attacment feature to redirect URLs was doing this very thing. The page was essentially just a list of common search terms, no content, just a base attempt to get page hits.
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby Feba » Wed 07.16.2008 4:26 pm

I am surprised that, in cases like that, number URLs haven't caught on. Heck, you could even have it be the same as the company's phone number; those obviously work.


As for American commercials, they seem to be caught somewhere between trying to entertain people and give information. Many of them do seem be to "Hey, here's a little song and dance, an overview of our product, now call us or look at our website for more information" though.
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby jimbreen » Wed 07.16.2008 4:33 pm

keatonatron wrote:A few years ago, there was a little push for URL's written in native Japanese (e.g. www.漢字.com). It didn't catch on very well though. The feature hasn't been enabled on cellphones, and no advertising has taken advantage of it.


Actually it was www.漢字.jp :)

The relative flop of the generic.jp domains was interesting. It had problems from the start in that it was introduced before the standards were decided, and the method chosen for encoding non-ASCII in domain names turned out to be the wrong one. Also, standard browsers could handle URLs with kanji. You had to get a plugin that was only available for IE. A few companies jumped in, got the domain names, put them in advertisements, then dropped them when it became apparent that no-one was actually using them.
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby jimbreen » Wed 07.16.2008 4:41 pm

Wakannai wrote: Squatter pages are already common with URLs, jdic had a squatter page for a few months at http://www.wwwjdic.org.


It wasn't that long. wwwjdic.org was originally rented via Yahoo, and when they jumped their price from $9.95pa to $35pa, I went looking for a cheaper supplier. Sadly I fell for a scammer who sold me a domain-name/DNS/WWW-redirect service for about $13. This was in early June. It worked for a few days, then the scammer fled taking his earnings and leaving unpaid bills including the registration fees for the names, which is why the registrar grabbed the wwwjdic.org name and parked it. I have got it back now - the registrar was very helpful. The total time out of action was a few weeks.

Caught up in the same scam was wwwjdic.net. The registrar in that case (a different one - the scammer used several) is being difficult. I am on the verge of lodging a complaint with ICANN about the registrar.
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby Wakannai » Wed 07.16.2008 5:59 pm

My bad. I think part of the problem is I never had any real sense of time to begin with. Now that I've been working the mid shift, my time sense is even more screwed up. I can't believe that I spent 10 years in a transient job I hadn't planned on working more than a couple of years at best.

I guess it might have helped my sense of time if I kept track of my birthday. Then I could at least keep my years straight. All through k-12 I didn't care about my age, just my grade. Then for 3 years after I got out, I cared about my age until I hit 21, then I stopped caring about my age again. So now when people ask me my age, I have to calculate it, it's not something I know off the top of my head like most people. I get strange looks when I start looking at my fingers ...
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby chikara » Wed 07.16.2008 8:52 pm

keatonatron wrote: ..... Obviously Western commercials have been similarly affected by the internet, but I don't think it has been to the same extent as things have changed here...... Anyone who still watches American TV care to comment? ..

It has been 7 or 8 years since I watched American TV so I can't comment on Western commercials ;)

In this country the majority of TV commercials include a URL.

A recent example is www.invadenewzealand.com

Wakannai wrote:My bad. I think part of the problem is I never had any real sense of time to begin with. Now that I've been working the mid shift, my time sense is even more screwed up. I can't believe that I spent 10 years in a transient job I hadn't planned on working more than a couple of years at best.

I guess it might have helped my sense of time if I kept track of my birthday. Then I could at least keep my years straight. All through k-12 I didn't care about my age, just my grade. Then for 3 years after I got out, I cared about my age until I hit 21, then I stopped caring about my age again. So now when people ask me my age, I have to calculate it, it's not something I know off the top of my head like most people. I get strange looks when I start looking at my fingers ...

:?

Do you blame this on advertising or the internet or is it a combination of both?
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby Harisenbon » Wed 07.16.2008 9:28 pm

two_heads_talking wrote:I don't believe US commercials have even come close to the "randomness" that seems to be behind Japanese commercials.


I think it's all a matter of what you're used to.
I no longer find many Japanese commercials to be "random." Whether this is a result of commercials becoming more serious, me understanding more Japanese, or just getting used the culture, I don't know.

However, when I went back to the states a couple years ago I was weirded out by how random the TV commercials were compared to the Japanese commercials I usually watched. ;)

As for Keatonatron's original point, I think that JP commercials still fall very heavily into the 2 categories of "entertainment" and "education." One example that sticks in my mind is the new Mira commercial. What started out as an "entertainment" series of commercials (mom likes her mira) has become more of "educational" about the product, focusing more on the 燃費 of the car than on attractiveness / entertainment value.

I'm trying to think of some commercials that completely throw away the "education" portion of the CM for pure entertainment and a link, but I can't think of any. For some reason only car commercials are popping into my head.

Do you have any commercials in particular that were pointed out to you as having no educational value about the product?
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby furrykef » Wed 07.16.2008 11:28 pm

Wakannai wrote:So now when people ask me my age, I have to calculate it, it's not something I know off the top of my head like most people. I get strange looks when I start looking at my fingers ...


I think I'm starting down this road... I did have a couple of times where I had to subtract 1984 from the current year just to be 100% sure of my age. At other times I wasn't not that sure whether I'm 24 or 26. (I'm 24. I think I got confused because two years ago I had a friend who was 24, so now she is 26.)

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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby chikara » Thu 07.17.2008 12:03 am

furrykef wrote:I think I'm starting down this road... I did have a couple of times where I had to subtract 1984 from the current year just to be 100% sure of my age. At other times I wasn't not that sure whether I'm 24 or 26. (I'm 24. I think I got confused because two years ago I had a friend who was 24, so now she is 26.)

Do you attribute this to "entertainment" or "educational" TV commercials or is it simply TV commercials in general that are causing you to lose track of your age?
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby furrykef » Thu 07.17.2008 1:18 am

eh? None of the above. I was simply remarking on Wakannai's quirk. ^^;
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 07.17.2008 10:11 am

Harisenbon wrote:
two_heads_talking wrote:I don't believe US commercials have even come close to the "randomness" that seems to be behind Japanese commercials.


I think it's all a matter of what you're used to.
I no longer find many Japanese commercials to be "random." Whether this is a result of commercials becoming more serious, me understanding more Japanese, or just getting used the culture, I don't know.

However, when I went back to the states a couple years ago I was weirded out by how random the TV commercials were compared to the Japanese commercials I usually watched. ;)


I was going to comment on that, but I had no reference since my Japanese commercial days were so long ago. I would imagine that what one is accustomed to, is the basis for what one determines as random. I would imagine with your above comment that it is a combination of you understanding more Japanese, getting used to the culture and commercials becoming more serious. I would think that the more japanese you know and the more culture you understand, the easier it is to "catch the drift," so to speak.
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby keatonatron » Thu 07.17.2008 1:25 pm

Wakannai wrote:
keatonatron wrote:I see this backfiring sometime soon. Squatter pages are already common with URLs... All they have to do is play with their meta tags to steal page hits from the competition.


That's why Google uses page rank as well; the number of unique sites linking to the page in question hold just as much weight, if not more, than the actual content on the page itself. This ensures that only legitimate, "recognized-by-peers" sites get the top spot.

Harisenbon wrote:Do you have any commercials in particular that were pointed out to you as having no educational value about the product?


I don't remember the word (so I'll subsitute in "XXXX"), but there was a commercial for "New Draft One XXXX Beer". It didn't say anything about how XXXX is a new way of brewing beer that gives a much different taste, makes it more fizzy, and reduces calories; they simply said that it's new and it's XXXXed and left it up to the consumers to find out what XXXX really is if they're so inclined. Of course, 50% of consumers probably bought it more for the "new" than for the "XXXX" :)

There is another side to the non-information method though. Many people are too lazy to look up information, and if you simply give a product a fancy name (i.e. "Now with more smorgensenhide!"), people will buy it simply assuming it's better because it sounds difficult. It's like telling someone "I didn't want to tell you this in front of everyone, but your epidermis is showing".
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Re: Commercials and advertising

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 07.17.2008 3:34 pm

keatonatron wrote:
There is another side to the non-information method though. Many people are too lazy to look up information, and if you simply give a product a fancy name (i.e. "Now with more smorgensenhide!"), people will buy it simply assuming it's better because it sounds difficult. It's like telling someone "I didn't want to tell you this in front of everyone, but your epidermis is showing".


Samuel Adams is doing jsut that with their advertising. They show a huge stack of hopps next to a small stack of hopps and mention that their beer tastes better because it has more hopps.

Since I don't drink, the commercial doesn't interest me in the least, but I am sure there are those backyard brewtypes that will go out and buy it based on name alone. There will be others who try it to see if the larger amount of hopps is really that much better. And I am sure there will also be those who try it just to see what it tastes like. Either way, their marketing ploy is to "interest" the consumer in the "extra amount of hopps"...
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