Earlier today, Anime News Network reported that Toy’sworks would release a line of mobile phone straps based on Senran Kagura. The line, “Nyu-Flavor Scented NiitenGomu! Senran Kagura”, will be a line of 2.6-inch rubber straps depicting characters from the series. According to the line’s advertising, each strap has a “faint breast scent.”
Let’s be honest for a moment, here. This is clearly a marketing ploy meant to cash in on the desperation of horny fanboys. Many of them probably haven’t seen real breasts in their lives. But I digress.
More than anything, products like this are harmful to the overall reputation of anime in the international market. While we may laugh at products like this, they do reinforce a number of stigmas that exist in the greater market. In particular, it reinforces the image that the average anime fan is a lonely, basement-dwelling loser whose only exposure to the opposite sex comes from anime and porn. You and I both know that this isn’t the case. However, the story told is one that can, and will reach a greater market.
If you recall my previous articles, a story is a key in capturing the attention of the greater market. And, according to master marketer Seth Godin, attention is one of the most limited resources in an attention economy. It’s finite, as nobody can spend more attention than they can devote. Likewise, people have begun to realize just how little they can spend, and have thus become choosier as the options increased. People love a good story, though, and will gladly pay attention to the outlandish and the unusual.
Unfortunately, the outlandish and the usual often also help to create stigmas and stereotypes. They’re the rare nuggets of truth that people will recall when associating emotions with a product or a brand. While we may laugh at these things now, they’re what the greater market remembers when discussions about anime arise. In the past, these stories came to manifest in a number of forms. Those of us who’ve been in the subculture for at least a few years have undoubtedly heard at least one of the following:
- “Anime? That’s just porn!”
- “That’s just shows like Speed Racers”
- “It’s all little girls or big robots!”
Each perception arose from a story that spread outward. And, unfortunately, with each negative story that spreads, another group that could be a potential customer-base is scared away. So, as we laugh at moments like these, it doesn’t hurt to remember that the butt of our sardonic jokes may repel parts of the greater market.