Japanese firms advertise on cartoon shows to convey that its brands stand for high quality

26 Nov,2013

By Shambhavi Anand & Writankar Mukherjee


Why would an imaging brand like Canon advertise its products on cartoon show Doraemon? Canon’s executive vice-president Alok Bharadwaj said the current generation of children aren’t as aware of Japanese electronic brands as previous ones and, hence, the use of the popular cartoon characters for a rub-off effect.


Doraemon, Hello Kitty and Ninja Warriors are popular among Indian children (and their long-suffering parents) and better known than Japanese staples such as Sony and Panasonic or even Toyota and Honda. “In a certain sense, these equities have become large when compared to age-old brands,” said Satyajit Sen, CEO of media buying company ZenithOptimedia. “However, both (sets of brands) operate in different spaces and that should also be taken into account.”


The development reflects the importance of ‘soft’ power, as exemplified by the spread of pop culture icons, such as the Doraemon anime series. “Japanese cartoons have broken the monopoly of western world characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck,” said Mr Bharadwaj. “That same message that Japan stands for high quality will only grow in the kids and boost other businesses.”


Recognising this, the Japanese government has announced the launch of a new project to aid global promotion of the country’s culture, including its anime, video games and cuisine. The Cool Japan funds will start with Â¥50 billion (about $500 million) in backing from the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry combined with 10 billion Yen from a range of companies. For PlayStation maker Sony Computer Entertainment, the popularity of cartoon characters such as Doraemon and Hello Kitty has led to a jump in sales of both gaming consoles and software, said Atindriya Bose, country manager. “The rate of adoption increases when a cartoon character becomes popular,” he said.


The popularity of Japanese anime in India has persuaded an increasing number of companies such as Maruti Suzuki, Honda, GlaxoSmithKline, Hindustan Unilever, and Samsung to use the blue robotic cat Doraemon to promote their products.


That’s where those long-suffering mums and dads come in. Parents tend to watch cartoons since the children are glued to them, said Chitranjan Dar, chief executive, foods, ITC. Which is why Hindustan Unilever promotes Surf Excel detergent and Tresemme hair care on cartoon programmes.


A 2012 study by Cartoon Network showed a majority of parents watch television with their kids. After serials, cartoons are the most preferred genre for parents, ranking higher than news channels. About 75% of parents spend time watching TV at least five-six times a week with their children. This number is even higher, close to 80%, for parents of younger children. Channels say that in spite of substantial growth, the genre is under-monetised, with 7% viewership and just 3% of revenue share.


According to the industry that buys advertising time and space on television and in print, more than 8% of national viewing time – more than that of news channels on most days – brings a horde of advertisers to children’s channels. According to TAM data, Ninja Warrior, Shin-chan and Doraemon have the highest ratings among shows meant for children across channels that cater to them.


Some children’s channels earn close to 50% of their revenue from advertisers targeting adults.


Source:The Economic Times

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