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Japan is a very different market to the Western World, with different customs, beliefs, and traditions, and these have shaped behavior both online and offline.

One of these jumps from Japanese culture into the online world is Anime and Manga. Moving from the realms of comic books through to TV, film, and video games – these mediums can help penetrate the Japanese market and introduce new consumers to your brand.

One major misconception of this medium is that it’s just for kids, but a recent study conducted by Shinfield, a Japanese manga marketing firm, found that 70% of respondents aged 40 and over still actively consumed manga. Another consideration is that the manga industry in Japan alone is worth more than $3.5bn and since 2013 has found new life with digital distribution.

What Is Manga?

Manga (漫画) — Japanese comics or graphic novels — have a long history and tradition behind them. The visual medium’s roots originated in the 1200s and its current form was first developed in the 1920s.

Outside of Japan, Manga has grown in popularity in the United States, France, South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Animated Manga Movie, Shirobako.

What Is Manga Content Marketing?

Manga content marketing is characterized as a technique that utilizes the manga art style as the medium in which to convey a message. Whilst the style isn’t new, the increase in digital adoption has helped increase consumption as print was in decline, meaning it presents new opportunities for brands willing to invest in the media.

It’s mainly used as a means for product placement, or branded content, as the examples further in this article show, but some elements of traditional manga still exist. As Manga encompasses a wide range of possibilities, ranging from scene settings to whether or not the characters are even human allows for almost unlimited potential and creativity.

Typically there are two options available for marketers – to either produce their own manga in collaboration with a publisher and known Manga artist (a Mangaka), or pay to feature a product placement in an existing series.

Manga Content Marketing Examples


In 2005, Nissan’ Serena family car was featured in the manga Cooking Papa, which involves a responsible family man, corresponding to the brand’s product launch.


Nike, in partnership with Beacon Communications, implemented the “Bukatsu” campaign which targeted high school sports enthusiasts. The campaign offered audiences access, via QR codes, to a manga series that featured basketball player Kobe Bryant, football player Ronaldinho, baseball player Daisuke Matsuzaka, and other professional athletes.

High-End Wines

“Drops of God,” a wine-themed manga, played a substantial role in spreading awareness of high-end wines in Japan, which were featured in the plot according to the authors’ preference.

Examples Of Manga Product Placements


Ah! My Goddess pays focus to Keiichi’s BMW RS54 motorbike on numerous occasions, even featuring it front and center for one of the later episodes of the anime.

Keiichi’s BMW RS54 in Ah! My Goodness


Barcardi rum shows up in Black Lagoon during a drinking contest, and Dutch is shown using a Heineken can as an ashtray.


In the City Hunter anime, it features M&Ms candy multiple times, whether in logo form on trucks or billboards or actually being eaten.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut has a very lucrative deal with Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. Pizza Hut signs are in every episode and the cast eat pizza every chance they get.

Pizza Hut also sponsored the movie: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, complete with movie promotions of the cast eating Pizza Hut pizza.

They also advertised in the 4th season of Maria-sama ga Miteru, where the logo is often prominently displayed in the background, even in an amusement park.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Pizza Hut placements


In Eyeshield 21, Hiruma is usually seen toting around a laptop. In some places, it is revealed to be a Sony Vaio.

Battle Tendency ends with Joseph noting that despite his dislike of the Japanese, he’s still happy to own a Sony Walkman (shortly followed by a close-up of it).

Skype & Apple

In the manga of Ouran High School Host Club, the character Kyouya using an Apple computer with the proper OS displayed on the screen. He even has a few recognizable icons such as Skype.


The Christmas Episode in volume 3 of Sgt. Frog featured Keroro using the “Yahoo!” search engine. The logo was even seen in the panel.

Manga is considered as an effective tool for advertising because of its visually-appealing nature and its ability to retain the viewers’ attention. Additionally, marketing with manga has been proven to improve a campaign’s click-through rate and conversion rate. Another advantage of manga advertising is that it can coincide with influencer marketing, making a campaign gain an even higher reach.

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