Bebe Taian: Byouki dosu e.

March 14, 2013

Byouki dosu e.

I've been sick for almost four days now. Normally, I don't get sick, but with how strong the recent flus have been, I can only say I'm surprised I've held out this long against it. This means buying lots and lots of tissues. Why am I bothering to tell you this? Because in Japan, if you have allergies or if you get sick, don't worry! No matter where you are, in virtually every major city, there is someone in public handing out free packs of tissues with ads on the wrapper. At least, there were when I was there in 2005. Sadly, this seems to be decreasing because of (what else) the economic crisis. But in lighthearted news, some fun facts about tissue advertisements!

Fun Facts About Pocket Tissue Advertisements in Japan

3/12/13 by
pocket tissue advertisements2
If you’ve ever visited a big city in Japan, you’re sure to have seen a bored looking 20-somethings passing out free tissues with colorful advertisements inserted into them. Upon receiving these pocket tissue advertisements, you probably thought, “Hey, cool, free tissues,” and continued on your way. But pocket tissue advertisements have been around in Japan for over 40 years now, and are a surprisingly effective form of advertising. Let’s take a look at some fun facts about this unique marketing strategy in Japan.

Fun facts about pocket tissue advertisements
  • The first appearance of pocket tissue advertising was in 1969. This form of advertising is almost exclusively seen in Japan.
  • The majority of pocket tissue advertising is for loans and consumer credit.
  • Unlike advertisement flyers, which are immediately thrown away, pocket tissue advertisements are usually kept until all tissues are used up. Since consumers keep pocket tissue advertisements for a long time, studies have shown that they have a deep psychological impact on the brain, influencing shoppers to choose the familiar brand or company advertised on the packages.
  • Some businesses choose to attach free drink or discount coupons to the tissues as well.
  • For companies who use pocket tissue advertising, using tissues of higher quality is said to create a better company image.
pocket tissue advertisements
Why do companies use this type of advertising?
  • Inexpensive - Pocket tissue advertising is relatively inexpensive. Companies only have to pay for the costs associated with purchasing tissues and pay one person to stand in a busy area and pass them out.
  • Efficient - It is an efficient way to advertise to a target market. A beauty salon might only choose to hand out pocket tissue advertisements to women, realtors to families who have children, etc.
  • Effective - Recent data suggests that pocket tissue advertising is 100 times more effective than advertising in the newspaper.
If pocket tissue advertising is so effective, why is this form of advertising decreasing?
  • Decreased advertising budget - Due to the economic recession, corporations and small businesses have less money for sales promotions.
  • Fewer opportunities to use tissues - Many companies are creating products that replace the use of tissues, such as makeup removal cloths and soft cloths for eyeglasses. This reduces the utility of tissues and has prompted companies to think of other more useful products to place advertisements on.
Youtube goods
Are tissues outdated?
In recent years, companies are choosing to hand out advertisements printed on products other than tissues. Plastic uchiwa fans in the summer, hot pads in the winter, ballpoint pens, bags, and other practical goods that are more useful to consumers and can be used longer than tissues are starting to be handed out on the street.

What do you think about this form of advertising? Do you get annoyed by people constantly thrusting tissues with gaudy advertisings in your hands or do you appreciate the freebies?

Source: Matome Naver (Japanese)


  1. That's a really nifty idea.
    Although I suppose the Western equivalent is the pen like you said, both pens and a packet of tissues would float around a women's handbag for AGES! I know this because my handbag used to breed pens.... but yeah, I can see it being a good business practice.

    1. I like pens, too, since they are so durable... and I tend to write a lot. Plus, as a waitress, I lose pens constantly! x.x