Ep 37 – Shaking up advertising or how to best communicate in Japan – with Marc Wesseling

marc-wesselingHave you heard a few years ago about salaryman Sato? After his wife forbid him to buy a fancy electric shaver, he started a big movement to help other salarymen get free from their wives’ control over the family money! No, salaryman Sato didn’t really exist, but the movement was real. It was the fruit of UltraSuperNew, a creative agency, as part of a promotion campaign for the electronics giant Philips.

My guest this week is Marc Wesseling, one of UltraSuperNew’s co-founders. He explains how communication and advertising in Japan is outdated due to Dentsu’s monopoly. Traditionally, Japan’s brands love to use celebrities to promote their content or products. But as Marc emphasize, the lack of the innovation in the industry now leaves room for smaller but more modern creative agencies like his.

Marc explains how getting their first big reference with KLM helped them land other big clients like Heineken, Redbull, EA, or Philips. In this episode, we discuss about how the industry has evolved. Back in the day, advertising was campaign driven, now you need to communicate pretty much all the time. Therefore I’m asking Marc how to best communicate in Japan, especially when you are a foreign brand.

We also debate about Japan’s design, and particularly web design. Compared to western practices, Japan’s websites and other presentation documents are very crowded with information and very flashy. Most foreigners would actually say that they look terrible! So is Japanese design different, due to market preferences, or simply bad and outdated?

Questions: How can advertising be more effective in Japan? How would you consider Japanese web design? (reply in the comments)

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  • (2:37) The beginning of UltraSuperNew
  • (8:42) Creating a viral mouvement
  • (17:11) The big breakthrough
  • (26:22) Communication strategy
  • (28:37) Advertising industry in Japan
  • (30:28) Is Japanese design different or simply bad?
  • (33:25) Japan’s advertising specificities and design trends
  • (37:44) From a law background to advertising
  • (39:15) Other comments on Japan’s design
  • (44:38) Quick-fire questions

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