With the continued growth of anime and the overall industry, especially outside of Japan, initiatives and activations are becoming more prominent. We had the opportunity to talk to 33 inc. Co-Founder Koji Kubota as they expand their expertise of marketing with anime from Japan to the United States.
Could you please talk about 33 inc. in Japan and what it does with other anime titles?
Koji Kubota: We are a startup marketing agency specialized in the entertainment industry that began in January 2021. We currently have around 30 team members working in our Tokyo headquarters office.
Our competitive advantage is that we can offer a one stop solution to our clients, such as PR, social media marketing, advertising, content creation, marketing strategy planning, and executing promo campaigns.
As far as the type of content we work with, we work with a wide range from TV anime series to live action films. In the two and half years since our launch, we have worked with a total of 50 titles and around 20 companies in the anime field.
33 inc. is a relatively young company that has worked on many notable anime series. Could you talk about what may have helped contribute to that?
33 inc. is our one stop solution model. Primarily, we have the ability to offer a full package that allows for efficiency, both in execution and in costs.
We also understand that every title has its own unique challenge and situation, so we can be flexible with the service we provide that caters to those needs. Sometimes, we will take care of everything like producing the promotion plan, and other times clients will have us just take care of social media or content creation.
The [second factor] is our creativity and execution skills. We have experience in promoting both Japanese and non-Japanese live action movies, and have worked with some major Hollywood films as well as major Japanese films. We have built relationships and skills from those experiences. For example, we have a broad range of media relations when it comes to PR, or our experience with producing some big budget advertising campaigns strengthens the service we can offer to our clients.
The [third factor] is our passion towards each title we work with. We have some industry veterans within our team, but we are also actively hiring from other fields if we see potential. We are always thinking about and working towards getting the titles we work with to as many eyes as possible.
We are always so thankful to be able to work with so many popular titles, and have nothing but gratitude for our clients who trust us with promoting their work.
What kind of anime marketing projects have you been involved with in Japan?
As far as TV series, we have worked with Bleach and Chainsaw Man. With movies, we have worked with Psycho-Pass and Blue Giant. Also, coming up, we have KAIJU No. 8, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, Rurouni Kenshin, and Black Clover.
Do you have any particular promotion examples that hold a special place in your heart and have been a turning point for you?
They are all special to me, but one that became a turning point for myself — although this is from a while ago — was when I worked with Psycho-Pass (the theater version). We executed several promo campaigns, but one of them was an outdoor advertising or activation called “The Sibyl System Zone” that created a lot of buzz. It was an experience based activation where a digital signage was placed inside Shinjuku station in Tokyo, and if you stood in front of it, it measured your “crime likelihood.” This was based on the movie. The campaign went on for a week, and at one point it had a two hour wait, and that project led to more projects coming in.
Could you please talk about why 33 inc. decided to expand overseas and open an office in the United States?
The main reason is that I genuinely just felt that I wanted more people to see and enjoy anime as anime is getting bigger and bigger around the world. As a marketing agency, we wanted to be able to contribute to the industry, to be able to support other companies that have already been doing great things around anime.
We hope that with the anime marketing experience we have from Japan, we can build a team here that is rooted in the U.S. culture and market, and that we can contribute to the growth of the anime industry.
We already have many projects that we are working diligently on, such as global marketing for a popular title, or a marketing project that incorporates both Japan and the US.
We understand that it is not easy to have success in a foreign country, so we are constantly working to understand the U.S. culture and the way people work here.
Why did you choose Los Angeles as the base for your operations?
The first reason is that many companies in the anime field have offices on the West Coast. The other is simply that I love Los Angeles! I have been coming to LA every year, and I also have many friends and know many great creators. I was able to feel good about starting a business here.
Could you please share what 33 USA inc. plans to do within the anime industry outside of Japan?
We have localized the services we provide at 33 inc Japan for the U.S. market. We have expertise in brand development, PR, social media marketing, advertising, and content creation.
If there is anything that companies in the anime industry are in need of or have any challenges they are facing, we are here to help solve them as an agency. We plan to continue to update our services in the future.
33 USA inc. has promoted itself as “a marketing agency specializing in the anime industry.” Could you elaborate on that?”
When we say the anime industry, that of course covers films and TV series, but we also mean other elements of anime such as anime products/merchandise, anime IP games, anime IP musicals (2.5 musicals) — which I hope will grow — anime based comic books, etc. [Just all] of entertainment around anime.
As 33 USA, we hope that everyone can get to know us from an anime angle.
There are many people who are anime fans who are interested in the anime industry. What are you looking for those who may be interested?
I think the most important quality is the skill to turn that passion for anime into action. The anime promo campaigns we provide do not necessarily have a pre-set model. For each title, we understand the story, the market, insight of the fans, and from there, we create and execute plans from scratch. What is important is that you can really think about what you can do to have your title be received and enjoyed by even one extra person and to be able to act on that.
U.S team is made of a hybrid of locals and members from the Japan headquarters. They come from a variety of backgrounds, such as marketing agencies or anime companies, but what we all have in common is that we all love anime and manga.
We are currently actively hiring, so if you are interested please apply. For further information please visit our website.
Could you please share some closing remarks?
Our purpose as a company is to deliver the greatest entertainment experiences to people around the world with the power of marketing, and bring forth a society full of joy and inspiration. We hope to help with delivering the best anime experiences to as many people as possible, to even one extra person. We only live once, and we strive to bring even one extra experience of joy and inspiration to people’s lives.