I don't know what percentage of Japan's Gross National Product is spent on advertising -- a Japanese analyst I once talked with claimed it was lower than in the US -- but the public areas of this country are saturated in advertising. Streets, buildings, train stations, trains -- all available surfaces seemed to be covered in adverts.
That being the case, competing for attention in a very crowded environment -- I'm sure that marketing professionals have some annoying jargon for it, like "Awareness Space" or "Mediascape" or "Attention Environment -- is fierce, so advertisers try to stand out.
The most recent attention-getter I've seen was on a Tokyo subway last week. Almost all of the subway straps (or, at least, those long enough for them to fit) had attached to them -- men's neckties.
The length of the car -- ALL six of the cars -- looked like a giant tie-rack. Each necktie, of course, was imprinted with an advertsing message and phone number, and yes, they were real. Real enough, at least, in construction when I examine one more closely. Made of cloth, folded and stitched like a necktie, though shorter than a standard necktie and with a velcroed loop that held it to the subway strap.
So some advertiser came up with this bright idea, designed and ordered up hundreds of these pseudo-neckties with the messages and the velcro loop, and coughed up the money to Tokyo Metro have some workers go through each car -- and god knows how many cars they went through -- and attach each one of them to almost all the subway straps.
And knowing the lifespan of Japanese advertising, I'll bet they're only going to be there for a week, two at the outside. So now someone has to come p with an even flashier, more attention-getting advertising gimmick for NEXT month.
In any case, you can see the photos to the right, there. Sorry about the quality, but I was using my brand-new mobile-phone camera, and at night, to boot.