Spider Communication


When the action-packed superhero movie The Amazing Spider-Man came out in 2012, it was a major global hit. So when the sequel was about to launch earlier this year, the whole world waited in eager anticipation.

In Japan, the mood was altogether different. The first movie had flopped, and the sequel was expected to perform equally badly – if not, worse – at the box office. Why? Because young people in Japan had become completely disinterested in western movies. And to them, ‘American action movies’ were the worst exemplification of that genre.

UM had to find a way to make The Amazing Spiderman 2 resonate with young Japanese people by tapping back into their own culture.


Two key consumer insights informed the agency’s thinking:

• Regardless of age, Japanese people love finding the’ inner hero’ within themselves. You only need to see the huge interest in MANGA characters, and ‘Born in Japan’ animated heroes such as ‘Dragon Ball’ to see this. If Sony Pictures could find a way to make The Amazing Spiderman 2 resonate with people’s own inner heroes, and thus get closer to their own culture, then it could change the fate of the movie when it hit Japan. 

• Young people in Japan are obsessed with smartphones. In the last year alone, the device has experienced a massive boom, and there are now over 50 million users across the country. UM knew that a campaign that had the smartphone at its core would prove a real hit.

With a killer idea, and using a ‘never-been-seen-before’ combination of technologies and media platforms, UM turned Japanese consumers into real-life Spidermen – and let them experience their own action battles on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka.

In a national media-first, the agency decided to turn the nation’s favourite item – the smartphone - into a super-hero weapon, and give people the real-life sensation of ‘zapping’ the enemy to defeat it.

UM then used this exciting media stunt to generate buzz and excitement around the country, and developed an integrated PR strategy around it. So by the time the film was released, everyone was talking about Spiderman, and couldn’t wait to see their favourite new superhero in action on the big screen. 

Thus, the Amazing ‘Spider Communication’ was born.


Sony Pictures took over designated digital OOH Screens in the heart of Tokyo and Osaka, Japan’s two main cities, with a creative execution that saw Spiderman’s archenemy ‘Electro’ appear suddenly in front of people.

With the very latest ‘Web Socket’ technology, the agency synchronised web browsers on people’s smartphones with the OOH digital vision signage, so that passers-by could use their smartphones to ‘zap’ the enemy Electro as he appeared in front of them.

Of course, the public were captivated by the eccentric campaign, and people stopped in their tracks to watch others engaged in this technological street battle – and it wasn’t long before their own smartphones were out, too, and they were also ‘zapping’ the enemy.  

The activity soon started to generate a significant amount of PR buzz, which was amplified withUM invited one of Japan’s hottest female pop idols to perform and to engage with the advertising campaign with her own smartphone. Thousands of people gathered to see the star become ‘Spiderman’ in front of their own eyes.

Finally, to take the experience online (and reach even more people), the agency leveraged Japan’s largest live-feed website, “Nico-Nico Video”, and let people engage with the campaign on the YouTube home page.


This campaign integrated new technologies, OOH, digital and events on a scale never seen before in the country. By leveraging all of these channels, UM created a new ‘benchmark’ in the possibilities of smartphones and OOH media linkage, and provide a new mechanism by which to reach people nationwide, instantaneously.

All across the country – on the streets and back at home, people could be seen ‘zapping’ the archenemy and engaging with their own ‘inner Spiderman’. 

The campaign reached 7.5 million people in total, with a reasonable cost of just $5.7 per CPM.

It also generated an impressive amount of ‘Earned Media Value’ through positive PR. The event was featured on the popular TV programme "PON", broadcasted by one of Japan’s key TV stations, was covered by Japan's major sports papers, and was on top page of "Yahoo!", Japan's largest website. 

In total, the exposure generated was the equivalent of $1m worth of a paid advertising.

Most importantly, it turned a movie flop into a major Box Office hit in Japan – with The Amazing Spiderman 2 making an impressive $30m.

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Sony Pictures Entertainment
Publishing & Broadcasting
April - April 2014
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