Tag Archives: Sharp

High-Definition Depression: Japanese Electronics Giant in Executive Carnage!

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Euro 2012: When Electronic Advertising Came of Age

The 2010 FIFA World Cup was not a vintage edition for a whole host of reasons, from the eerie symbolism of the tournament being staged in the world’s most unequal society to the soporific fare proffered by the majority of competing teams; even Spain, deliciously stylish winners of Euro 2008, rarely sparkled en route to winning the entire thing, with the lasting aesthetic impressions being dominated by Germany, Uruguay and the incredibly unfortunate Japan and Paraguay national teams, both of which could have gone much further given better luck.

In fact, there was one other significant visual at the last FIFA World Cup: the advertising boards. This was the first such tournament to feature electronic, animated and massively distracting perimeter commercials, the result being that the name of Chinese renewable power giant Yingli Solar is etched in our collective consciousness as firmly as any actual football. We at Mediolana dreaded that this was the beginning of a Brave New World for sport, where Internet-style dancing monkeys in Santa Claus costumes would come to dominate the pitch sides of even the most glamorous and sobering of contests.

Yet the first few days of UEFA’s Euro 2012 have provided acute relief from this dire trajectory: while electronic advertising hoardings have made their European Nations Cup bow, they have proven to be anything but an eyesore, in some senses even enhancing the central spectacle. How has this curious state of affairs arisen?

1. Higher Definition. The new advertising boards appear to contain many more pixels per square inch, meaning that they reproduce solid blocks of colour: blocks so solid, indeed, that they could at times be mistaken for those on analogue boards. Resultantly, the boards stand out without being overwhelming.

2. Subtler Messages. Banished are the blinking, flicking monstrosities of 2010’s advertising hoardings; in their place are well-designed, essentially static commercials which recall those in place at Juventus’ old Stadio delle Alpi during mid-1990s Champions League nights.

3. Less Intensity. The commercials stay in place for minutes at a time rather than seconds, with a limited number of Japanese-dominated sponsors advertising their wares in a manner that exudes class and sophistication. Sharp Electronics and Canon Inc. have never had a fonder place in our hearts.

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Hold the 3DTVs! Sony, Sharp Announce Stunning Losses; Rumours of Impending ‘PrayStation’ Unfounded?

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Learning from Fukushima: Japan Seeks Energy Alternatives

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Post-Fukushima Japan: A Roadmap for Rehabilitation

The May 2011 issue of Monocle – an increasingly indispensible magazine – has the issue of ‘jump-starting’ post-Fukushima Japan at its heart, with Editor-in-Chief and Chairman Tyler Brûlé mapping out several possible steps to be taken in his thought-provoking piece, New Build – Japan. These include the excellent suggestions of establishing a government and diplomacy school with pan-Asian credentials, and providing support to the specialist, knowledge-rich SMEs which proliferate in the Japanese Archipelago.

However, Japan faces serious structural problems beside which increasing the country’s influence in the domain of international relations or the ability of its smaller corporations to continue to compete in global markets look positively low priority. Addressing the following issues will mean that Japan should continue to be in many respects a model country; conversely the price of leaving these in abeyance will be a high one:

1. Energy. Incredibly, the reactors at Fukushima I represent only the tip of the Japanese nuclear iceberg: one of the most earthquake and tsunami-prone countries on earth has 50 main nuclear reactors which generate around 30% of the nation’s electricity, a figure which was expected to rise to circa 40% in 2017 and 50% by 2030. After Fukushima, this situation is probably no longer tenable; the impact of a second or a third such accident could totally destroy Japan’s image globally and lead to capital flight on an unprecedented scale. A Japanese mobilisation of the country’s tremendous resources in renewable energy – companies such as Sharp and Kyocera are world leaders in solar power, and Japan has more wind and rain than it knows what to do with – should be a matter of the utmost urgency.

2. Immigration. While the Japanese are no longer the legendarily insular creatures of years gone by – indeed, their co-hosting of the 2002 World Cup is regarded as a paradigm of hospitality and generosity – discrimination against even Nikkei, ethnic Japanese who have origins in countries such as Brazil and Peru, is real, let alone towards immigrants from the Korean Peninsula, China, Iran and Indonesia. However, pure demographics amply illustrate that this parochial mentality is no longer feasible: a rapidly ageing and shrinking population needs – according to a UN estimate – an infusion of at least 17m foreign workers by 2050 just to maintain a productive economy. Japan needs to embrace this fact: it represents an incredible opportunity to culturally and economically enrich the country.

3. Post-growth. Japan’s economy has long puzzled global onlookers, many of whom seem mesmerized that a highly-educated, economically egalitarian country which exports some of the finest, most innovative consumer products known to humanity is now synonymous with low growth; others – not least Norohiro Kato, Professor of Japanese Literature at Waseda University – recognise that Japan might well be pioneering a new, steady-state macroeconomy. Low growth has not hindered Japan’s status as the second-largest creditor nation in the world, nor its typical annual current account surplus of 3% of GDP; unlike the United States or Greece, Japan’s public debt of around 200% of GDP is owed to its own private sector rather than foreign institutions. In a era defined by resource crunches, Japan may well find it expedient to elaborate on this new path forward.

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