Anime as Advertising

There are real ads, and then there are ads disguised as anime…

I mentioned in one award post I like The Amazing Race (I’ll be referring to it later so henceforth it’s TAR), and so it’s pretty obvious when a show tries to shove products down my throat. Let’s take Sanrio Danshi, then, and see how it’s so suspect as a show in this vein.

Anime is just one link in the chain sometimes called the “media mix” marketing strategy, and it’s stated by lots of people such as Justin Sevakis that anime work to promote manga and other products – after all, when you have a manga/other product with a story you need to sell and you want more people to be familiar with it, adapting the story as its own product gets the name out there and makes people familiar with what’s going on in the different media. Therefore, by having an anime centred around certain products or having a sponsor who just so happens to align with the core ethos of the show as it often is with car companies, Travelocity and the American version of TAR, then it’s a win-win situation. Sanrio Danshi happens to be from the first camp, having being produced by the company it’s named after.

Likewise, collaborations such as the one Gakuen Babysitters had with Sanrio (you see it in the eyecatch of episodes 11 and 12, if I recall correctly) add to the stream of revenue. In Japan, it’s pretty common to have exclusive illustrations for a collaboration. The reigning companies will slap those designs on to some merch – maybe keychains, or a bag if you’re lucky – and then have them exist as rare collector’s items for the fans. Exclusivity and collecting go hand in hand in the world of the otaku by English and Japanese definition, but somewhat more for the latter since it is a measurable metric of obsession in a niche field.

Product placement can get even deeper than the collaboration level. In Sanrio Danshi in particular, this is achieved via what is obviously photos from Puroland in the second episode, alongside products fans can get either from said Puroland or from somewhere else, like Yuu’s My Melody keychain or the Pompompurin bag Kouta bonds with a young girl over in episode 1. Of course, there are bonus points if the show allows the name of the product or the sponsor’s name to be said aloud (how many times do I hear “you have won a trip for 2 from Travelocity” from Phil over the course of one season of TAR?)…These things have to have a purpose within a show though, so you get elaborate storylines around products you may not actually be able to buy if you’re outside the region of the intended demographic. Otherwise, the easier thing for non-affiliated companies or parody shows is to rub out the advertising altogether, which results in “WcDonald’s” and all of its other variants…but those parody brands could take up a whole post by themselves…


If it weren’t Irina’s shtick, I would’ve made a drinking game for this by now (since I mentioned bonus points), but hey, you could always invent your own. So, what are some ways anime and advertising have worked hand-in-hand, and were they obvious enough to get a reaction out of you?

6 thoughts on “Anime as Advertising

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  1. Surprised you didn’t mention Tiger and Bunny, especially after the Netflix version got rid of all of the advertising. Would have been interesting to have included that too. Another example would be the horse girl show that is airing now, that’s to promote a phone game that isn’t even out yet!

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    1. The topics are the way they are because this post was something I’d originally written while Sanrio Boys was airing (that’s one reason Umamusume isn’t mentioned).

      You do provide some good examples for the topic though, so if I ever get a chance to revisit it somewhere down the line I’ll be sure to take the suggestions into account. I still plan to watch the T & B anime someday (either for Doug & Kirill or just for its own sake) so already there’s an opportunity to do so…

      Liked by 1 person

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