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Harnessing the Power of Anime as an Outstanding Marketing Solution

Recently in Japan, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of clients choosing to use anime in their corporate branding television advertising campaigns.
At present, it is becoming more commonplace in Japan to see anime—which has particularly high appeal for young demographic segments (10–29 years)—utilized for communication campaigns.

Against the backdrop of this trend, Dentsu established Dentsu Japanimation Studio, which seeks to provide clients with marketing solutions through collaboration with Japanese anime studios. In this article, we offer a brief introduction on how Japan’s world-leading anime industry (“Japanimation”) can be harnessed to create powerful marketing solutions.

Launch of Dentsu Japanimation Studio (DJS) to Provide Anime-based Marketing Solutions

For young people in Japan, anime is a very familiar part of their daily lives. This is true to a greater extent than most marketers might imagine. According to the most recent research undertaken by Dentsu, among the 20–29 age group 64.3% responded that they are interested in anime, while the corresponding figure for those aged 15–19 was 72.4%. Regarding young people today, anime should probably be viewed not as a minor interest but rather as something that is natural and has always been in their lives as long as they remember.

Source: Dentsu Web Quantitative Survey, December 2018 (survey sample comprising 20,000 respondents nationwide in Japan). This proprietary survey carried out by Dentsu asked respondents in each age-group demographic the extent of their interest in anime, with respondents choosing a level of interest from among 10 options provided. The survey results revealed extremely high levels of interest in anime among young people, particularly those aged 15–29 years.

For Young People, Anime Has Already Made the Transition from Subculture to Become Part of Mainstream Culture

In particular, for marketing managers who have an awareness of the challenges involved in developing a customer base within young demographic segments, it is probably worth considering the option of using anime. When considering a vision of the future in which anime is likely to gain increasingly wide appeal among general audiences, anime may be seen to represent unlimited potential as a marketing solution.

Furthermore, anime’s effectiveness is not limited to young people in Japan. In recent years, Japanese anime movies have achieved major success in the global marketplace, and the popularity of Japanese anime overseas is at an all-time high.

For example, according to the most recent research covering 20 countries and territories outside Japan, among a sample of 6,600 respondents, 34% cited “anime and manga” as “Japanese things that they consider to be excellent.”

Source: Dentsu Japan Brand Survey 2018, conducted in 20 countries and territories using a survey sample comprising 6,600 respondents

However, despite the high profile enjoyed by Japanese anime, the number of cases in which it has been utilized for marketing campaigns in overseas markets is still quite small.

Dentsu Aims to Develop More Sophisticated and Comprehensive Marketing Solutions Utilizing Anime

Based on the potential we see for anime within the marketing context, on October 22, 2018 (Anime Day), Dentsu established Dentsu Japanimation Studio (DJS) as a cross-functional business unit within the Dentsu Group.

News Release
Dentsu in Collaboration with Major Japanese Animation Studios to Establish an Organization to Produce Anime Video Content for Enhancing Clients' Brand Appeal

The Answer Studio Co.,Ltd.SUNRISE Inc.STUDIO COLORIDO CO.,LTD.David Production Inc.BANDAI NAMCO Pictures Inc.PIERROT CO., LTD.Production I.G, Inc.Polygon Pictures Inc.MAPPALIDENFILMS,Inc.

* The logo shown for each partner anime studio is a hyperlink to each respective partner’s website.

DJS will work together with Japan’s world-renowned anime studios to create optimal “anime-based solutions” for clients. The number of partner anime studios collaborating with DJS is expected to grow in the future.

The solutions offered by DJS will be targeted not only at companies in Japan but also at clients globally. Hence, Dentsu plans to develop a support structure leveraging its international network.

Furthermore, as one of Dentsu’s unique strengths, it will be possible to produce content and provide feedback based on the results of the Group’s consumer research from a marketing perspective. The project teams at DJS will gather together specialists drawn from a broad array of fields, including people from both sides of the left brain–right brain divide.

A large number of professionals from the Dentsu Group—who possess expertise in the utilization of anime in marketing—will participate in DJS. It will be possible to produce original, tailor-made anime that is optimized for corporate branding purposes.

The Unlimited Potential of “Original Short-Length Anime”

In the domain of “anime-based marketing solutions,” DJS plans to undertake a wide range of approaches.

DJS is already supporting several campaigns, both for clients in Japan and overseas. However, at present, DJS is producing “short-length, original anime that is optimized to communicate brand messages and anime stories” as web content, which is then combined with advertising placements and strategic PR. Hence, such content is designed to be highly attractive for sharing among consumers, particularly focused on users in young demographic segments.

Since these solutions do not use existing intellectual property (IP), but instead are developed as “original anime,” there is a high level of freedom and it is possible to build “brand-optimized content.” In a later article in this series, we plan to introduce an actual case example of this type of content.

One of the particular characteristics of such campaigns is that they typically include a short anime approximately three minutes long.

The three-minute length gives ample room to develop content with a strong storyline, in contrast with the standard television commercial format, which is too short for such story development since it is generally limited to just 15 seconds. In addition, compared with TV anime shows and anime feature films, since three minutes is not “too long” viewers are able to watch the three-minute anime many times if they wish, and share it on social media platforms. For social media users whose friends have shared such content, it is easy for them to watch the anime if it is only three minutes.

Furthermore, from the perspective of sharing content among users, research reveals that “Japanese anime fans have higher information sensitivity and higher information influencer capabilities compared with those who are not anime fans.” In other words, if good content is produced and made available, there is a tendency for users to be proactive in sharing this content.

Source: Dentsu Web Quantitative Survey, November 2017 (survey sample comprising 20,000 respondents nationwide in Japan). The information sensitivity and information influencer capabilities of anime fans were quite astounding. We anticipate that high-quality web content will go viral very quickly.

In addition, by adding subtitles for multiple languages, we have observed content created for Japanese clients being shared overseas. Since these are short-length anime that may be easily viewed in their entirety on the internet, it has a high probability of not only reaching overseas anime fans but also overseas non-anime fans.

There is potential for unlimited spread of content not only among Japanese anime fans but also among overseas anime fans, and even further afield to segments that have no interest in anime.

Based on this reason, DJS believes that this method of developing original short-length anime for the web is at present one important type of anime-based marketing solution.

Of course the optimal solution will differ depending on the client or particular market environment. Overseas, we are also executing other methods, and plan to report on these in later articles in this series.

Rather than producing advertisements, we are focused on creating anime works.

Underpinning our approach to anime-based marketing solutions, we adhere to a particular philosophy.

Specifically, “We do not produce anime advertisements, we create anime works.”

Although it may be a strange thing for an advertising agency member to write, when pursuing projects we have a shared philosophy with clients that may be summed up as: “Creating works is our principal task and producing advertisements is our subordinate task.”

The validity of this stance is reinforced by the results of our post-project evaluations. Even if the client’s product or service is not strongly promoted on center stage, if we can launch content that stands on its own merit as an anime work, viewers are more likely to gain a positive feeling about the client company or brand.

Ultimately, its recognition as “a work of high-quality anime” will result in it becoming content that enhances corporate brand value.

We are beginning to see solid marketing outcomes generated via the three-step process described below.

However, it is not simply a matter of creating good anime content. Concept development with the objective of optimizing the anime work in relation to the brand, and methods for verifying the effectiveness of campaigns, are also essential. Dentsu is accumulating a unique array of expertise in all of these areas.

Each time we input the data that we have obtained, I am again strongly reminded that marketing solutions and the creation of high-quality anime works are both absolutely essential and must go hand in hand.

Erika Matsubara | Marketing Planner / Global Branding Department / Solution Intelligence Center

Takashi Muto

Strategic Planner
Dentsu Japanimation Studio
Email:japanimation@dentsu.co.jp

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