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Winners' Circles (Assembling the Data)

Published By: John on 01/09/11
Categories: Winners' Circles Consuming Japan Advertising

Where did the data for this research come from? What are the sources and how were they used? These are basic scientific and scholarly questions for which this section begins to provide some answers.

Anyone who studies the Japanese advertising industry confronts mountains of data. Like the field geologist confronting a range of real mountains, he will not be able to disassemble and analyze the whole range. Question No. 1 is what and where to sample. The samples, moreover, are bound to be incomplete. This research makes use of archival data; but archival records are, in fact, like geological strata, sometimes twisted or broken in ways that leave gaps in the record.

One possible approach would be to explore the trade press that has, in some cases, covered the Japanese advertising industry for a half century or more. Sendenkaigi, a monthly magazine devoted to “marketing and creativity” started publication in 1954, the same year that the ADC was founded. Sendenkaigisha, its publisher, now publishes a variety of similar periodicals that target advertisers, designers, sales promotion and PR experts, and editorial writers. Koukoku Hihyou (Advertising Critique), which ceased publication in 2010 after a forty-year run, aimed to provide a critical (but supportive) perspective on the relation of advertising to mass culture. Business periodicals like those published by Nikkei Shimbunsha (the publisher of the Nikkei Shimbun, Japan’s equivalent to the Wall Street Journal) might also be consulted. The Nikkei Advertising Research Institute’s annual white paper is a source of which heavy use is made in this research. And of books about Japanese advertising, both single-author and collections, there seems to be no end.  All of these sources need to be used with care, since changes in format and editorial policy may have altered the types of information they provide. When, for example, I first subscribed to Sendenkaigisha’s Brain magazine, its focus was market research. The current incarnation of Brain covers advertising art and design. We shall return to these issues in Part II, when we look more closely at the historical context of the trends revealed by the social network analysis.

The data for the social network analysis reported here are taken from the Tokyo Copywriters Club Advertising Annual. This annual is not the only publication of its kind. The the first edition of this annual was published in 1963, the year in which theTokyo Copywriters Club (TCC) was founded. The Tokyo Art Directors Club (ADC) was founded nearly a decade earlier, in 1954, and it, too, publishes its own annual. The All Japan Radio & Television Commercial Confederation (ACC) annual, which contains the results of the yearly ACC CM Festival and has been published continuously for forty-five years. All three annuals provide credits data like that used here. There is much overlap between them but also differences. To choose to use data from one instead of the others is, thus,  to adopt a particular perspective on the industry as a whole.

The author’s choice to use data from the TCC annual is, like much anthropological research, opportunistic. He became acquainted with this annual while working as a copywriter, used it as primary source material while teaching, and acquired the collection of recent volumes whose perusal inspired the research reported in this book. Other perspectives will be considered, but the research reported here is focused primarily on the world of Japanese advertising as seen by those who, like the author, has pursued careers as copywriters and creative directors.

The reader should also be aware that, while the TCC annual has been published continuously since 1963, the data reported here are only from the 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2006 annuals. Why not all of the data since 1963 and why these particular years? The author’s collection of these annuals includes a continuous series starting in 1979. His collection of the earlier volumes is incomplete. It would, of course, be desirable to have data from all of the available volumes in the database; but since the data must be transferred manually from the printed pages of the annuals to the database, the expense in both time and money prohibited this choice. Data from the 2001 annual were used while designing and testing the database, and the decision to cover three decades at five-year intervals resulted in the years indicated above.

 

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