Tuesday, November 2, 2010


There are many clever marketers in Japan - this much I know.

I don't know if this is unique to here or is practiced in other countries, but this year some company gave our school a free copy machine for the staff room. They also provide ink, paper, and maintenance. What do they get in return? All of the copies include color ads at the bottom of the page that teachers must cut off and discard.
Don't know if that's cost effective (probably not) but seemed to me like a pretty cool idea.

Yup, my handouts are rocking out Spiderman and Mr. Lego.


  1. > Don't know if that's
    > cost effective
    > (probably not)

    It's definitely not cost effective if the ads are printed in color on each copy as the copy is made.

    If they're a little smarter about it they'd pre-print the ads onto the paper (in very large batches on a high-end printing press with a much lower per-unit cost), so the "free" copier would only be making copies in the usual way, using only black toner, which is somewhat more affordable (especially in bulk; cartridges are pricey for the consumer, but there's a lot of markup).

    Even then, for it to be at all effective they'd be counting on the teachers to get lazy and not bother cutting off the ads a very significant percentage of the time of the time, so that the students would be taking home worksheets and whatnot with color ads across the bottom. *That* would make it a business model that some venture capitalist might be willing to fund, at least for a while.

  2. I just noticed, too, that the "color" advert on the bottom of that worksheet looks like it may have been printed with a cheaper color process, rather than full color. There are three clues to this: First, there appear to be only three colors of ink, counting black. Second, nothing printed in one color has to be precisely lined up with what's printed in the other colors. There's no blending. Third, and perhaps most significant, there are a very limited number of gradations in the shading of how much of each color of ink was applied at any given point. I can only definitively identify three shades with the red (four counting the "none at all here" option). If I'm right, this kind of "color" printing is almost as cheap (in bulk, on the right kind of press) as plain old black and white. Designing the adverts is harder, but you amortize that over the tens of millions of times each advert is printed.