Internet advertising bigger than radio, magazine
“According to western theorists,” says Prof Shutto, “the communications market is a zero-sum market.” He debunks the theory by pointing out that Internet marketing is ‘viral’ in nature. Viral marketing utilizes individuals to pass a marketing message to others, creating exponential growth in the message's impact.
The Japanese style of communication and product branding was recently expounded by Prof. Noriyuki Shutto in an interview with The Sunday Times FT during a recent visit to Colombo.
|Prof. Noriyuki Shutto
Prof. Shutto is Director of the International Advertising Association (IAA) for the Asia-Pacific Area, and has wide international communications experience. The IAA is a partnership between the media, the agencies and clients.
Having joined Dentsu Inc., Japan - the world’s fifth largest communications orgnisation - in 1970, Prof. Shutto went on to become its CEO in 2001.
He is now Executive Advisor of the organization. He also teaches at Kyushu University, but is quick to point out that he is "a practitioner, not an academic”.
Prof. Shutto says that cultural taboo and political pressure sometimes curb freedom of commercial speech. He firmly believes all three parties – media, agencies and clients – should exhibit social responsibility rather than be ordered by the government. “Self-regulation and freedom of advertising are one composite package,” he says.
In Japan, interactive/Internet advertising is bigger than radio or magazine advertising – and stands a creditable third after television and newspaper. “According to western theorists,” says Prof Shutto, “the communications market is a zero-sum market.” He debunks the theory by pointing out that Internet marketing is ‘viral’ in nature. Viral marketing utilizes individuals to pass a marketing message to others, creating exponential growth in the message's impact.
“While Internet advertising per se is not so costly, creating value on the Internet could be very expensive,” says Prof. Shutto. He cites BMW’s commercial featuring Madonna as an example. Although over a US$ 1 million was spent on this campaign, it was aired only on the Internet, not on television.
On corporate ownership
Another notion among the Japanese is that companies belong to the employees rather than to the shareholders. This has resulted in greater corporate involvement with products than is the case in the US. “Hence”, says Prof. Shutto, “the Japanese are naturally inclined towards corporate advertising. Toyota gives you the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Corolla, bundled with the implicit assurance of the manufacturer.”
US manufacturers, on the other hand, pride themselves on the product itself.
Hence, General Motors gives you the Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet – each of which is an independent brand. Even in the FMCG space, Procter & Gamble comes to mind: Pantene and Head & Shoulders do not flaunt their parentage.
On cultural subtleties
Japanese tend to consider individuals in relation to their families, and Japanese communication is based on this culture.
In Japan, therefore, says Prof. Shutto, “messages tend to be indirect or emotional, and are sometimes communicated to individuals through society.”
Anglo-Americans, on the other hand, are perceived as independent entities and messages tend to be more direct. Public awareness advertising like for gay and lesbian rights is visible in the US, but is unthinkable in Japan.