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How do overseas advertisements differ from those in Japan? Six examples of foreign ads to inspire you

First, compare the following two images.

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These are the results of a search for "Toyota ads" on Google in the U.S. and Japan, respectively.

Just by looking at the images displayed in the search results, you can see that there is "somewhat of a difference.

In fact, from my perspective of managing advertisements in Japan and overseas for more than 15 years, I feel that there is a clear difference between the two.

If you are planning to distribute advertisements overseas, please read this article to understand the differences between Japanese and overseas advertisements.

3 Differences between Advertising in Japan and Overseas

First of all, we will explain the differences between Japanese and overseas advertising from three perspectives.

  • Appearance and design

  • Cultural and social context

  • Media used

Let's take a closer look at each of these points.

Appearance and Design

Appearance and design, which form the basis of modern advertising, is a point of view that differs greatly between Japan and other countries.

Although it is difficult to generalize, it is important to keep in mind the following general differences.



Amount of text

Too much


Use of color


Black and white



Amount of text

One of the most significant differences is the amount of text.

This is due to the Japanese language's "large amount of information that can be expressed by a single character.

Overseas, people basically use the "alphabet" and the amount of information per character is limited, so appeals using letters do not have the same value as in Japanese.

Therefore, when creating and submitting advertisements for overseas markets, it is more effective to use "images" rather than text.

In Japan, characters such as "yuru-kyara" are often used, but overseas, live-action images are often used, so it is necessary to deepen understanding of this difference.

Examples of the differences between Japanese and foreign advertising

Toyota's advertising poster for the Yaris in Japan: The message is conveyed entirely through text.

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The company's posters in other countries: The message is straightforward and the visuals are promoted throughout.

Cultural and social context

Although there is some overlap with other perspectives, we will now address the cultural and social backgrounds surrounding advertising.

The keywords for both are "collectivism" and "individualism.


  • Focus on groups such as families, schools, and companies

  • Even when the focus is on individuals, they are treated as "individuals within a group.


  • Focus on individual ideas and lifestyles

  • This is especially true in Western countries.

If you look at Japanese advertisements, you will notice that most of them are based on the premise of a group living environment, such as "living room at home," "classroom at school," "office," etc. On the other hand, in foreign countries, especially in Western countries, the focus is on the individual.

On the other hand, advertisements in other countries, especially in Western countries, focus on the individual's personal space, such as "in one's own room at home," and strongly emphasize the point of "how one can change through the product.

Examples of differences between overseas and Japanese advertisements

Key visual of Nintendo's Nintendo Switch: Emphasizes "connection" with friends.

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Microsoft's key visual for Xbox: "How you can change yourself" through the product.

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Media to be used

The last issue we will address is the media used.

The difference is very obvious. In Japan, traditional advertising such as "print media" and "TV" is still powerful, but overseas, Internet-based advertising is becoming more and more common.

Taking the U.S. as an example, online ad spending will exceed $200 billion by 2022, which is roughly three times the estimated $70 billion spent on TV ads.

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Listings through search engines and social media advertising are particularly powerful.

These Internet advertisements use images and design rather than text to appeal, so text-based Japanese-style advertisements will not fit well overseas.

▼Examples of overseas advertisements

FABREZE's overseas Instagram account: Posts are conducted using product images and illustrations.

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Six overseas advertisements to refer to.

The following is an explanation of six patterns of overseas advertisements by area that can be used as references.

  • North America: Apple

  • South America: Havaianas

  • Europe: L'Oreal

  • Asia: Samsung

  • Australia: Qantas

  • Africa: CASTLE LAGER

Let's take a closer look at these six ads.

North America: Apple

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Apple, one of the world's biggest companies, is a very good reference for overseas advertisements in the United States.

Above is an advertisement for Vision Pro, a spatial computing device that will be launched in Japan in 2024.

In Japan, advertisements often use scenes of people using the device in group settings such as families and schools, but Apple's key visual here uses a simple composition of a single woman wearing the device.

The background and the shirt she is wearing are both white.

South America: Havaianas

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This advertisement for the popular Brazilian sandal brand "Hawaiianas" is a clever use of the country of Brazil.

The advertisement is simple and easy to understand in that it juxtaposes zori sandals with the company's own products, making it clear that the brand was inspired by Japanese zori sandals.

The Brazilian flag motif in the background of the design also makes it possible to fully emphasize the "Brazilian-ness" of the product.

Brazil has a strong image of openness, with samba and beaches, and the sandals have a very high affinity with this image, which can be expected to have a large appealing effect.

Europe: L'Oreal

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European beauty brand L'Oreal is a popular company that boasts high name recognition in Japan as well.

The advertisements here feature a Caucasian, an Asian, and a Black person respectively, with the ethnic diversity that is typical of Europe as the first priority.

This is a method of expression not often seen in Japan, which is composed of a single ethnic group, so it should be very informative.

The catchphrase "BECAUSE YOU'RE WORTH IT" also plays a role in emphasizing diversity.

Also, the fact that the photos show the same product being used by all of the participants, with the popular products, gloss and lipstick, in their hands, is also expected to have an appealing effect.

Asia: Samsung

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From Asia, we chose an advertisement by Samsung from South Korea, Japan's neighbor.

The values in the Asian region are more similar to those of Japan than those of Western countries. This ad is a key visual for the overseas website of Samsung's flagship smartwatch product.

The simplicity of the overall white color scheme and the white woman in the smartwatch suggest that it is for an overseas market.

Five products are prepared, each utilizing a different dial to appeal to the functional aspect of the product, and the fact that visual uniqueness is ensured by the use of different colored bands keeps the viewer on their toes.

Australia: Qantas Airways

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This ad design by the Australian airline Qantas is also a good reference.

The entire Australian continent is placed in the center of the ad, while creating the cartoon style that is so popular nowadays.

The cartoon-style illustrations show what can be done in each region, reinforcing the friendly impression.

Just a few seconds of looking at this one piece is enough to convey that Australia has a variety of tourist values, such as beaches, ballooning, the Grand Canyon, snorkeling, and so on.

The fact that so much can be expressed without using text is a point that Japanese companies, where text-based advertising still persists, should keep in mind.

Africa: Castle Lager

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Last but not least is the key visual for Castle Lager, a popular African beer brand.

It is unique in that it is a beer advertisement that is recognizable at first glance, but what is even more noteworthy is the African-ness of it.

By using a device that is recognizable only by the color of the skin, you can tell that the beer is from an African company.

By preparing this kind of device, the value of the catchphrase "100% HOMEGROWN" stands out even more, and the appeal of the product can be further promoted.


We have explained the differences between overseas advertisements and Japanese advertisements.

In the future, opportunities for Japanese companies to produce advertisements for overseas markets will surely increase, so it is important to design advertisements that accurately appeal to people overseas while referring to the information presented in this article.

In addition, since advertising techniques and effective media vary by continent, area, and country, it is important to be aware of the need to create advertisements that are appropriate for the target audience.

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