Model Agency Media

Can Can may have skillfully connected with the most important consumer trends in the Japanese market to achieve its amazing success, but I find it hard to ignore the fact that its three most famous exclusive models — Ebihara Yuri, Yamada Yu, and Oshikiri Moe — all come from the same powerful entertainment production company K DASH. Yamada is officially a K DASH talent, but Ebihara and Oshikiri are managed by a subsidiary modeling agency called Pearl. (This connection may not be openly admitted, but the Wikipedia site on Pearl states that the agency’s official registration indicates a direct capital relation to K DASH.1)

The fame and ubiquity of these models has been one of the main appeals of Can Cam to readers, and K DASH’s power in the general entertainment world has allowed the girls to become “celebrities” rather than mere “magazine models.”

Looking casually at the current Can Cam line-up, the models do seem to be drawn disproportionately from the K DASH family or smaller-scale agencies without relation to K DASH competitors. Maybe this is why rival model firm Oscar Promotion teamed up with publisher Kodansha (rival to Can Cam‘s Shogakukan) to start its own fashion magazine STACOLLE using the Oscar roster of star talent as the models. For the first issue, popular model Ueto Aya graces the cover and provides an exclusive interview. A fashion feature shows how Oscar model Mori Izumi wears her Louis Vuitton so well. Other girls model outfits and demonstrate make-up tips.

This Oscar Pro/Kodansha collaboration proves that magazines in Japan can no longer gain readerships based solely on their own authority as independent media with interesting or helpful content. A successful magazine now needs exclusive “senzoku models” (専属モデル) who will also do enough inter-media work to bring fans from TV and film back to the actual print issues. Flipping traditional editorial direction on its head, STACOLLE starts with a pool of model talent as its core asset and then adds appropriate content around the personalities.

When viewed through the prism of global trends, there is no real surprise that celebrity culture has also become dominant in Japan. STACOLLE shows, however, that magazines now need exclusive partnerships with power players in the entertainment world to supply total media strategies for making the model pool into the well-known celebrities who can win the hearts and lead the tastes of readers. Models are not blank slates for styling: They must be protagonists for the lifestyle narrative. Whether this new magazine succeeds or not, the appearance of STACOLLE alone has a lot to say about how the media industry is reorganizing and what participating firms believe the secret to success with readers/consumers to be.

1 Further evidence for relations between the companies: the Pearl website was created through help of two Burning Production sub-companies – Proceed and Sweet Room. Burning is widely recognized as the most powerful force in the Japanese entertainment sector. K-Dash’s founder and chairman Kawamura Tatsuo was in the same high school class as Burning CEO Suho Ikuo, and the two companies are often assumed to be operating an informal alliance.

This article originally appeared on the Diamond Agency blog clast.

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