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Ads disappear in Tokyo amid COVID-19 epidemic

  • May 13, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 6:09 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, May 13 (Jiji Press)–The COVID-19 epidemic is prompting companies in Tokyo to take down advertisements from stations and train cars, which were plastered with ads prior to the outbreak.


Advertisers are suspending promotional activities as citizens stay home to avoid infection, leading to lower effectiveness for ads.


“It is a huge blow to the whole advertising industry,” an industry source said.


The change in scenery was evident in the busy Shibuya district.


The Hachiko Board billboard over an exit of East Japan Railway Co.’s <9020> Shibuya Station is blank, looming over a quiet district that was bustling with young people before the spread of the novel coronavirus.


Advertising posters on the walls of a station concourse have also been taken down, as have signboards near the Shibuya 109 shopping facility.


Hachiko Board, 4 meters tall and 20 meters wide, is a popular advertisement spot often captured by television cameras during live filming in front of the station.


According to JR East Marketing & Communications Inc., an advertisement arm of JR East, it costs 8 million yen per week before tax to place an ad on the board.


While many prospective advertisers vied for the spot prior to the outbreak, it has not carried any ads for four straight weeks since April 20.


“I don’t recall it having been empty for so long,” an official said.


Companies have also pulled their ads from train cars on Keio Corp.’s <9008> Keio Line, extending westward from Shinjuku Station in a busy Tokyo district.


Trains that had many ads hanging from the ceiling prior to the outbreak now only have ads from Keio itself and posters cautioning against infection.


According to the Japan Association for Rail Advertising, the decrease in in-car ads is spreading from train lines with smaller numbers of passengers.


The decline in ad effectiveness is viewed as the primary factor for the shift. But companies are pulling ads also because they want to avoid drawing crowds and their facilities are being shut.


“Ad listing fees are beginning to drop,” an association official said. “Even if the state of emergency is lifted, we can’t see whether ads will return soon.”



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