“Please Do Not Search For Jump Square”: How Dentsu Created a Buzz and What Your Business Can Learn From It



It all began with a mysterious commercial shown on late-night TV all over Japan. TV viewers saw the words “Jump Square” crossed out on the screen with a voice-over announcing the upcoming release of the inaugural issue of the Jump Square manga magazine. Yet, the viewers were specifically warned not to search for Jump Start on the Internet.[1]

What did people do?  Of course, puzzled viewers flocked to the official site (which had been open since August 2007). Yet to everyone’s surprise, they couldn’t find it anymore. It was closed. Instead, there was a skimpy text-only message apologizing for any inconvenience…

This can’t be true, proclaimed the hardcore manga fans, and they remained on the site, trying to find the key to this puzzle. After about 20 seconds they were rewarded for their persistence by seeing amusing animated Jump Square manga characters tearing down the wall of the announcement and crawling around the site.

That wasn’t all.  The mystery continued. When they entered the words “Jump Square” into the site’s search box, stunned fans saw a message that implored them to “Please Search for Something Else.” But how can you stop when you are already charged up? Some fans continued angrily banging out the words “Jump Square” on their keyboards a few more times.

Persistence pays…  Only when the word was entered three times did surprised viewers finally see…

How to Outlast a Gold Fish

Have you ever forgotten your birthday? Yes? No? According to the Associated Press, seven percent of people forget their own birthdays from time to time. Our attention span is shrinking like old leather. With a current attention span of 5 seconds, we have dropped below the average for … a gold fish! …which boasts a 9-second span. Wow.

Consider the other side. These days, small businesses would do anything to get your attention. Today attention means business. Of course, if you are small business owner, or a start-up that’s trying to bootstrap itself, you need to be creative. So what do you do to grab people?

Perhaps, you may consider listening to good ol’ Jerry Seinfield, who noted on this topic:

“There is no such thing as an attention span. There is only the quality of what you are viewing. This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.”

Ask yourself, are you entertaining people with your offering, be it digital content, creative product or advertisement? Are you making history with a viral video or innovative promotion?

For a while advertisers successfully used “AIDA” formula, which means “Attention, Interest, Desire, Action,” and it still works just fine. However, in Japan, where the competition for digitally active young generation of Japanese is higher than ever, advertisers are being driven, incentivized, to replace aggressive advertisement with innovative forms.

As Kotaru Sugiyama and Tim Andree, authors of “The Dentsu Way: Secrets of Cross Switch Marketing from the World’s Most Innovative Advertising Agency” shared in their fantastic book, back in 2004 Dentsu, one of the world’s leading advertising firms, came up with its own set of marketing tools, changing AIDA to AISAS, which stands for Attention, Interest, Search, Action and Share.

Dentsu realized that the main challenge, given the sheer volume of information and consumers’ willingness to seek out products independently, is to create an attractive offer so that consumers are moved by choice. Dentsu figured that consumers wanted to search for things independently, and then share what they found with their circle of friends. By giving people a choice, Dentsu created trust, which eventually transformed to Action.

The company believes that “the point is that it is no longer enough to simply use multiple forms of media to deliver the same message or campaign over and over. It’s easy for consumers to filter that out, and likewise, it fails to take advantage of the power of some forms of media, especially digital media.”

“We Are No Match for Your Enthusiasm and Determination”

On November 2007 Dentsu helped to launch the first issue of Shueisha Inc.’s monthly manga anthology Jump Square in a remarkable way, connecting with customers via Internet, TV commercials, public ads on major transportation routes.

So those persistent fans who typed in the search box at least three times?  They saw this message: “We give up. We are just no match for your enthusiasm and determination.”  The craving fans were directed to Jump Square’s mobile site (which was the company’s next target). There they found a preview of a manga, hidden before its publication date. Naturally, fans spread the word to all their friends, showing off their detective skills.

Yet the marketers had more up their sleeves.

The final circle of craze was orchestrated in the Tokyo metro. The Yamanote Line that encircles metropolitan Tokyo become the venue for “manga relay,” where the mobile site viewers were sent to read one of the stories from the Jump Square series. With one caveat – they needed to step off at each station indicated on a mobile map to read the full story. This “manga hunt” became the crown jewel of an already extremely successful campaign with hundreds of fans texting their impressions to friends and colleagues.

Wonder about the results of this campaign? The series sold out in a few days with a total of 600,000 copies sold. This was a fantastic example of Dentsu’s Cross Communication that uses multiple media to “actively involve consumers and stimulate behavior.”

Dentsu’s infamous “Cross Switch” approach includes multiple strategies, tactics, and tools – “to get through barriers put up by the consumer and maximize the results of a marketing campaign, especially the search, the action, and the sharing that consumers will do if they really respond to the campaign – that is if their switch is flipped. Once that switch is flipped, consumer engagement and purchase action increase dramatically.”

How can you use these practices in your own business or a new campaign? You can follow the Dentsu Ten Principles for Success in Cross Communication identified in the book:

The Ten Principles for Success in Cross Communication:

1. Think carefully, from the individual consumer’s perspective

Create ideas from clients’ perspective – what does he want? How will she behave? What does he feel? Makes sure that you create clear image of customers’ actions.

2. Create new ideas. Have the courage to say, “If it isn’t new, it isn’t Cross Communication”

Finding a new angle is not easy, but companies must approach each campaign differently.  Never repeat your campaigns. Your campaign should be able to stand-out.

3. Gather diverse team members, and actively “encroach on airspace”

Invite a diverse team of experts from different fields to discuss your project. Encourage to share and reflect on various ideas. Wait for “chemical reaction” and “a-ha moment” to happen shortly.

4. Continue to share the goal among the entire team throughout the planning process

Make sure that you are transparent with your entire team. Each member of your team should be constantly aware on what’s happening with your process.

5. Make it easy to explain

Simplicity always wins – ensure that your ideas are understood.

6. Always maintain an image of the scale of communication

“Cross Communication is defined as both breadth and depth.” While breadth relates to a number, depth identifies the quality of interaction. Both should have your equal attention.

7. Be persistent in negotiations, and don’t give up until the plan becomes reality

“Campaigns only have value when the idea becomes a reality.” Think Hollywood producer. Work persistently across the teams to make it happen.

8. Reexamine the plan once more, to ensure that it truly solves the issue at hand

Check your scenario and make sure that it creates the right solution.

9. Thoroughly review the campaign, and tie this into the next campaign

Good analysis helps to cement better future. Identify the challenges, create patches, make sure that you fix them in the next campaign.

10. Have fun with Cross Communication

Be truly open to new endeavors, create interesting content. Relax. Think. Enjoy.

[1] The example cited in this blog post is featured as a case study in The Dentsu Way by Kotaru Sugiyama and Tim Andree, McGraw Hill, 2011.
Cover image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jump_Square


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