Tokyo 2020 is a great buzz word and even though it is more than 1 year to the Summer Olympics, like typical Japanese style, advance and careful preparations is always their operates modius. In fact, since 2013 when Japan won the bid to host the summer Olympics 2020, they have been gearing up from all aspects of marketing, adding new or reintroducing 5 sports and also making the entire Japan more foreigner-friendly to welcome more than 15,000 athletes from 207 nations when the games kick off on 27 July 2020.
How Tokyo 2020 is different and what is it impacting?
New sports launched: Among Tokyo 2020’s 33 Olympic sports will be five events making their debut or return to the games: baseball (men)/softball (women), karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding. Baseball is something close to many Japanese’s hearts and something of a national obsession. It is great timing that this is being reintroduced at this time. Karate, with its origins in the Ryukyu Islands (in modern-day Okinawa Prefecture) are particularly significant additions according to JNTO.
These five new sports were chosen specifically to appeal to a younger audience. Surfing is becoming increasingly popular. Skateboarding and sport climbing were chosen to reflect the growing urbanization of sport.
Increased penetration of English usage: Without sounding deprecating, Japan was notoriously known for being unfriendly to English speakers especially before the advent of Google Maps and other translation tools. As part of the Tokyo 2020 or perhaps a mix of “Abenomics” as Japan forges ahead with its growth strategies put forth by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe since 2012, Japan is getting more and more internationalized. Even as early as last year subway metro maps in second tier cities such as Nagoya have both English and Japanese indicated side by side. We expect more of such translations to be more evident and accurate.
Welcoming foreigners: While Japanese are always very tourist oriented and it has a welcoming hospitality culture, but when it comes to the hiring of foreign labour and allowing foreign residency status, this have been very restrictive. But from April this year, the world’s third-largest economy will allow unskilled foreigners to work in 14 sectors such as construction and elderly care for up to five years. Skilled foreigners, meanwhile, will be able to migrate with their families and remain in Japan indefinitely. Japan is set forth to welcome up to 300,000 foreign labour in the next 5 years (reference here). So, please do not be surprised to see your sushi chef assistant as a young black American or like I was welcomed in a remote Shirakawa hostel by a Bangladeshi receptionist who spoke both Japanese and English effectively while demonstrating recycling principles to all tourists. All these will help Japan’s economic policies to support business to grow together with other business reforms such as the reduction of corporate tax and encouraging the return of women to the workforce.
Recycled Items: The use of recycled items is also a very big feature for Tokyo 2020 and just last week, it featured the medals that were recycled from over 6 million phones. Other devices collected included cameras and laptops, amounting to almost 80,000 tons of electronic devices. The Committee found it was able to extract around 71 pounds of gold, 7,700 pounds of silver and 4,850 pounds of bronze. All 5,000 medals that have all been made using 100% recycled materials from old electronics. Furthermore, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will feature podiums made from recycled plastic waste collected from local households or the ocean. The organising committee is working with Japanese retail chain AEON and Procter & Gamble (P&G) to collect boxes of discarded plastic at over 2,000 retail outlets. All these are part of the Tokyo 2020’s sustainability concept of the Games as “Be better, together – for the planet and the people” which features many more other projects.
Marketing during the Tokyo 2020
In 2017, Tokyo 2020 has appointed Dentsu Inc. as its marketing agency, with organisers revealing they hope to make 150 billion Japanese yen (£870 million/$1.46 billion/€1 billion) from domestic marketing programmes (reference here). This target seems well on the way as marketing souvenirs featuring the Tokyo 2020 emblem are well found in many key areas of Japan waiting for tourists to snap up since last year. Official shops are also found everywhere such as these inside the Bic Camera is well designed to make the shopping experience holistic from clothing apparel to various knick-knacks. The logo design is a harmonised chequered design and is expressed in the traditional Japanese colour of indigo blue expresses a refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan. A concept video has been created for more people to connect with this design and join the growing Olympic excitement.
Till date, in terms of ad sales, the budget set for Tokyo 2020 seems to be on target even as NBC has recognised that current performance has surpassed the Rio Olympics previously. NBC mentioned some contributing factors such as the favourable time zone and more Japanese companies that had not previously advertised in the United States.
It is very difficult for brands to hijack the Olympics for their marketing activities during the Olympic period as well documented by The Drum (despite the click-bait). We, TPM Outdoor in Outdoor Advertising for Japan have also been informed of pretty strict regulations that are planned for Out-of-Home in Tokyo. Famous long terms signs such as Suntory are also scheduled to be regulated during the period as most of the billboards should be occupied by official sponsors. But this has not stopped clients from advertising before and after the event and till date, there has been many active enquries for brands to get involved. In fact, Facebook Asia-Pacific just a launched a new campaign aimed at drawing advertisers to the platform for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Facebook emphasis for brands to be focused on cross platform and cross media behaviour based on a YouGov survey that looked into the way sports fans consume their content between TV and their smart devices.
Quoting Sandra Marichal, Facebook IQ’s marketing insights manager for Asia-Pacific “Games used to live on television. But by 2020, there will be three billion smartphone users and Asia-Pacific will account for more than half of them. Today, people watch TV and are on the mobile at the same time.”
Billboard and Out of Home Advertising in Japan by TPM Outdoor
TPM Outdoor had worked with many clients such as Nike and entertainment clients targeting the trend-setters in Tokyo. Media suited for foreign clients reaching the masses in Japan could include the Marunouchi area.
We highly recommend this area especially for business to business B2B clients reaching out in Japan as this is a prestigious area – It is also Tokyo’s financial district and the country’s three largest banks are headquartered there. Did you know that almost Nearly a quarter of Japan’s GDP is generated in this area! We consider this the commercial district of Tokyo located in Chiyoda between Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace. While billboards are really rare in this area, TPM Outdoor has promoted several sites here such as at the Tokyo Yaesu area. We also recommend another landmark in the area – Tokyo station. Tokyo Station is a terminal station that should be called the main entrance to the capital Tokyo. There is a circulation of about 760,000 people a day, which enables advertising to a wide range of ages. It is also the hub of the JR and Metro station making it one of the busiest and most prestigious place to catch the right eyeballs. Nearby metro stations can include the Otemachi metro station which is very near the Palace Hotel.
The airport train advertisements can also reach out to B2B target and TPM worked with Vietnam Airlines to launch its new re-branding in the airport trains. This is very appropriate even to reach the higher end business travelers as train travel is so efficient and comfortable that all levels of working class will use them instead of private car transport.
On the other spectrum, some of our clients prefer to reach out the ultra trendy in Tokyo as we did for NBA (The National Basketball Association in 2016). They did a multiple stations targeting at youngsters that will be influenced by the American culture such as Akihabara, Shimbasi, Ikebukuro Station, but also at unmissable areas in Japan including the Tokyo Station and Roppongi metro.