When it comes to promotion of goods and services, the 'flesh-and-blood' approach - in other words, the unmediated voice, eye-to-eye, hand-to-hand approach - is considered the most effective. This approach is at its most extreme at election time when sound trucks rumble through otherwise quiet neighborhoods blaring what in most other countries would be considered intolerably raucous spiels at levels which, if the truck passes you by, leave your ears almost literally ringing.
In its more toned down, everyday form, this approach takes the form of people on the street handing out flyers. During business hours it is impossible to walk more than about 10 or 15 minutes through any business area of a Japanese city without being offered advertising material by a young man or woman.
Most of the distributors of advertising are baito
(i.e. part-timers - an abbreviation of the German frei arbeiter) and are usually dressed pretty much as they like. However, bigger companies really trying to make a difference to their sales figures are more likely to go all out and conduct a focussed campaign complete with roadside stall and uniformed staff.
I was walking through Tokyo's busy Shinjuku CBD on the weekend and encountered these saleswomen promoting the services of Japan's biggest mobile phone provider, NTT Docomo. Being on the cutting edge of mobile phone technology, NTT is obviously trying to underline its technical prowess with the retro 'space girl' look.
Zap! I was sold! Just like that.
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Monday, June 11, 2007