Friday, March 23, 2018

Vanguard takes over Tokyo trains in aggressive new advertising campaign

Bushiroad promotes new series by celebrating seven years of animation.
Original image uploaded by Comic Natalie.
For two weeks from March 22nd to the 29th, trains operating on the JR Yamanote Line will be sporting Cardfight!! Vanguard advertisements on their exteriors. More than 129 designs will be featured, highlighting every existing season of the Vanguard anime series and concluding with key visuals from the 2011 manga and 2018 rebooted anime series. A full schedule can be seen below.
  • 03/22 - Cardfight!! Vanguard and Asia Circuit
  • 03/23 - Cardfight!! Vanguard: Link Joker
  • 03/24 - Cardfight!! Vanguard: Legion Mate
  • 03/25 - Cardfight!! Vanguard G, GIRS Crisis, and Stride Gate
  • 03/26 - Cardfight!! Vanguard G: NEXT 
  • 03/27 - Cardfight!! Vanguard G: Z
  • 03/28 - Original comics and new anime series key visual
The Yamanote Line is Japan's busiest and most commercially important railway system, running around the economic epicenter of the nation to connect with every major station in Tokyo. Operating for approximately twenty hours around the clock, at peak hours one train departs every two minutes from one of its 29 stations. More than one million people use the line daily, and all but two of its stations connect to other railways. Bushiroad's move to canvas the line in Vanguard advertising is part of a hard push to get the franchise in the public eye in advance of its next season.

Vanguard banner at Toshimaen waterpark, July 2011.
Despite being comparatively smaller than its contemporaries Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, and Magic: The Gathering, since 2011 Cardfight!! Vanguard has developed stronger visibility with the general public through similarly grand-scale advertising campaigns. While Konami, TPCi, and Wizards of the Coast, have generally downplayed the importance of explicit commercials to promote their trading card games--favoring TV anime series and/or a greater brand name to push their product--Bushiroad has always emphasized traditional television commercials, posters, and other forms of public advertising to reach out to new audiences that aren't already engaged with TCGs. Nearly every individual booster set and trial deck receives its own preview video to promote it, while for the past seven years most of the company's competitors have limited their PV output to one to two major videos per year.

2011 billboard advertisements for BT02: Onslaught of Dragon Souls, set up along a railway.
The result is that many casual consumers of Vanguard in Japan mistakenly believe it to be bigger than its contemporaries, as they live in a landscape shaped by the brand. When the game first launched seven years ago, Bushiroad partnered with three of the nation's biggest waterparks to turn their pools into giant Vanguard advertisements for one summer. Parkgoers could dry off and walk right into a teaching workshop for the game, then leave with the first chapter of the manga for free. Throughout the Asia Circuit arc Bushiroad made a point of advertising around university campuses, on billboards and at train stops. And at one point, the company even owned the variety TV program Vanga-Road, created specifically to promote Cardfight!! Vanguard using the crossover celebrity appeal of its cohosts, actress Kitta Izumi and musician Naitou Daigo.

January 2013 wall advertisement for Cardfight!! Vanguard: Link Joker.
The new anime series, codenamed "Origin," will begin airing May 5th, 2018, on TV Tokyo and affiliated stations. It will be simulcast with English subtitles on YouTube and Crunchyroll. Trial Deck 01: Sendou Aichi and Trial Deck 02: Kai Toshiki will launch in Japanese May 11th, 2018, and in English June 8th, 2018. BT01: UNITE! TEAM Q4! will launch in Japan May 25th, 2018, and in English June 22nd, 2018.