Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shiseido at MIT


Shiseido, the Japanese cosmetics and skin care company, started as a Western-style pharmacy in 1872. In 1888 they became the first Japanese company to manufacture toothpaste, and in 1897 their cosmetics line launched with Eudermine, a scented skin toner still sold today.

Shiseido is one of the meticulously documented subjects of Visualizing Cultures, a program launched by MIT in 2002 to exploit the Web as a platform for image-driven scholarship. Of particular interest was the ability to study and present large quantities of previously inaccessible images.

The result is a website rich with visual and textual information. It’s kind of like a bottomless, scholarly, coffee table book, where you can wander as you please, through historic details and scores of hi-res color images.

As for the Shiseido archive, the past hundred plus years of Japanese history is all there. Industrialization, mass-market consumerism, urbanization, Western influences, modern warfare, and of course the enormous shift in the lives of women.

Here is just the tiniest taste of the ads, posters, and magazines you will find on the site


As a company focused on image and aesthetics, Shiseido was a constant innovator in product design, promotion, advertising and marketing. There were customer loyalty clubs, promotional giveaways, and magazines.

Shiseido cemented its chain store network’s shared corporate identity and values through the circulation of engaging public relations publications such as Shiseido Monthly (Shiseido Geppō) launched in 1924 (later renamed Shiseido Graph [1933 to 1937] and then Hanatsubaki), which was a free giveaway geared toward customers, and Chainstore (later renamed The Chainstore Research [1935 to 1939], The Chainstore [1938 to 1939], and then Shiseido Chainstore Alma Mater [1939 to 1941]), which was an in-house organ that communicated practical product and promotional information to chain store affiliates.


















Above, newspaper ad from 1915.

1 comment:

  1. such fantastic images. early focus on lifestyle rather than product.

    ReplyDelete

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