Ad Campaign Turns Tokyo’s Sleeping Drunks into Billboards

What to do with a drunken salaryman, sleeping in the street? Why, use them for advertising, of course.

If you’ve spent any amount of time out at night in Tokyo (or have any friends who have, or…let’s face it, have access to the internet), you’ve seen salarymen sleeping one off in the streets/train station stairs/subway cars. Now, this is not the sort of thing that would fly in most other major cities around the world. Not because people in those cities don’t get very drunk on a weekend, but because if you were to crash out drunk in a public place in those cities, you’d be likely to find yourself being treated rather uncharitably by local law enforcement, or wake up with fewer possessions than you started off with.

Photo series of Friday night drunks in Tokyo can be found all over the place, but recently the Japanese branch of the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather decided to put this phenomenon to work for a company that runs a group of bars, oddly enough. The Yaocho chain of bars wants people to drink (they’d be out of work otherwise) but to do so responsibly.

The answer: turn them into a public service announcement by taping a frame around them and laying down a hashtag of #nomisugi (drank too much) next to them, as well as a reminder to drink responsibly. The idea is that if enough people share these pictures, the “honorable people of Tokyo” will be shamed into not getting too drunk. While we don’t think this is quite likely to happen, and this video seems quite well staged, it would be interesting to see if some creative folks actually started decorating real sleeping drunks with clever imagery. It could turn into a whole new subcultural niche…

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