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'Ultraman' Soars to New Heights

An inside look at how the "Ultraman" brand is expanding its reach and expanding into new categories.

Originally launched in 1966, the “Ultraman” brand has enjoyed its position as the No. 1 live-action brand for boys, as well as the most-wanted superhero brand among boys in Japan, according to Tsuburaya Productions, the creator and owner of “Ultraman.”

From the original series to its latest iteration, “Ultraman Geed,” the superhero is known for defending the universe against Kaiju, or monsters from other worlds. The series also promotes strong messages of friendship, hope, teamwork and understanding the difference in others.

Tsuburaya Productions, which was originally established in 1963 by film director Eiji Tsubruaya as a production studio for special effects, cites that it is constantly seeking to innovate and reach out to young and old fans alike. The company is also working to deliver quality media content and services worldwide, which can be seen with the “Ultraman” brand as it expands both domestically and internationally.

According to Tsuburaya Productions, the “Ultraman” brand has six pillars of business–entertainment media, publishing, consumer products, experientials, campaign and promotions and retail marketing–that all have clear strategies and have developed “vibrant” business opportunities in recent years.

Within the brand’s entertainment business, it has received numerous awards and has recognition among more than 90 percent of males and nearly 85 percent of females in Japan, according to Tsuburaya Productions. The brand was awarded the National Merchandising Grand-Prix (Japan) in 2016 and was recognized by Guinness World Records with the most TV spin-offs. Overseas, “Ultraman” content, products and services have been distributed in more than 100 countries, and its latest TV series has achieved 1.8 billion OTT views in mainland China since its launch in July 2017.

On the consumer products side, “Ultraman” is available in a number of categories spanning apparel and accessories, consumer electronics, stationery, homewares, food and beverage and toys. The brand’s licensing program is primarily targeted toward kids as well as older generations that grew up watching “Ultraman,” and Tsuburaya Productions expects to extend the brand into more lifestyle categories.

For experiential and location-based events, Tsuburaya Productions has established the “Ultraman Festival” in Tokyo. The event, which has been running for more than 25 years, attracts 150,000-plus visitors and provides a variety of experiences for the brand’s fans. The festival also features a stage show, which is the event’s top attraction, and a souvenir shop, which is the most successful location for the company.

Additionally, Tsuburaya Productions has a number of retail promotional events. At Tokyo Skytree, the company established a photo setting, diorama display and exhibition around the 450-meter-high Viewing Deck Galleria, where visitors could see a video projection of Ultraman flying. Other promotional tie-ins included in-store campaigns with Family Mart convenience store chains and stamp-rally campaigns with East Japan Railway.

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