It’s my last day in Tokyo on this trip and it’s been an interesting and very enjoyable one. Last night after I returned from a walk and a libation I picked up a can of Chu-hi (why do I love this stuff so much?) and flipped on the hotel room television after midnight. Since I’ve never spent any time in a hotel in Tokyo on my prior four trips it was ‘interesting’ to say the least.
The first thing I noticed is that there were no news programs – Japanese, American, UK or otherwise. It might have had as much to do with the time of day (or night) as the hotel’s desire to get customers to pay for programming. The Japanese are very good at monetizing things as I found out this morning when I asked to stay one hour past my checkout time only to be told it would cost me 157 Yen – U.S. $2.00. I politely declined.
The next thing I noticed is that there all the channels (there were only 12 or so available) were Japanese with no other feeds from any other country – not even an old episode of Friends. As I moved around I stumbled upon some sort of game show with Japanese soccer players (or at least they looked like soccer players) who were involved in some sort of contest partnering with a Japanese celebrity (so I think) who preened around a bit like Yul Brynner in the King and I. The show segments were really short and commercial breaks really long. I don’t get the feeling that there are rules in Japan like those made by the FCC regarding how many minutes of television commercials can be seen each hour.
I watched the show and suddenly it was over with no resolution (remember my lack of ability to speak Japanese makes it more than a little difficult to tell). What followed was a series of television commercials one right after the other for the next nearly half-hour. I kept waiting for the program to return but it never happened. The advertisers ranged from Uniqlo, to HTC, to Hitachi, an energy drink, and a few restaurants. I saw the same ad repeated more than twice for HTC in the half-hour I was watching.
The whole experience made me think about having a cable or internet channel completely dedicated to – television commercials. No content other than television commercials. That’s completely in contrast to the near constant buzz in the U.S. regarding content marketing (which I believe in but am already tired of hearing about!). I have a suspicion that people would watch those television commercials – at least at first – waiting for programming that was never to arrive. After a while I became a bit mesmerized – many of the spots were 15 seconds and an occasional 30 second or 60 second spot popped up as well. But the fast pace of the 15’s kept me paying attention. Maybe it was the Chu-hi but I don’t think so.
Here’s a link to one of the ads – and I admit it’s a big gratuitous but then again when in Tokyo (and it was 1AM) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RH2BzHUUnOM
Television ads as a content channel – what do you think? Could it work in the U.S.? Would brand advertisers be willing to test running on a cable channel dedicated solely to commercials?