On many of the high traffic areas, especially around Shibuya and Shinjuku, tissue packs are an fascinating form of advertising. These small plastic packages covered with advertising are handed out in their tens of thousands every day. Wherever there is a busy intersection, people are employed to hand out the packs that typically advertising mobile phone deals, dating services or party lines.
The people handing them out usually form part of a team called the Brand Ambassadors. The ambassadors are usually young and beautiful people dressed in a bright T-shirt or some kind of uniform. The teams can’t be missed, they usually have a loud PA system close by playing screeching J-Pop advertising of the product in question.
This form of advertising dates back to the mid 1970’s and has become a gigantic form of marketing in Japan. An estimated 4 billion packs of tissues, representing 1 billion dollars, are distributed every year making it one of the most successful forms of advertising in the country.
The tissue pack works much better than brochures or other hand outs as people consider them as a real gift and generally keep them instead of discarding them in the closest rubbish bin, this gives the advertiser continued exposure. Lately, many luxury brands have jumped on board the wave and also started advertising with tissue packs.
The packs have caused such an impact that it is virtually impossible to purchase pocket size tissues in stores throughout Japan, as everyone expects to be given them in the streets as part of a promotion.