With entrance exams looming, “advertisements that only students can see” appear at Tokyo train stations.

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To the naked eye, these ads look like gibberish, but students cramming for entrance exams can spot the secret.

When placing an ad, you generally want as many people as possible to see it, and in that sense, a Japanese energy drink Zone energy went the traditional way with its new promotional campaign. Company selected Shibuya and Ikebukuro stationsthe two busiest railway junctions in Japan to place their advertisements.

But while anyone can see that Zone Energy has ads in stations, not everyone can see what those ads say because they are by design “ads that only students preparing for entrance exams can see.”

At first glance, most ads look like a printing or rendering error. However, there are messages hidden in a jumbled mass of white, pink and purple spots that reveal themselves provided you have a piece of translucent red plastic with you.


But who walks around town with stuff like that? Students. In Japan, supplementary textbooks and study aids often have the solutions to the exercises printed in such a way that they cannot be seen unless viewed through red-tinted plastic, and almost every student who commutes to or from the center to school or a small self-study on the train, has a sheet or strip of material with him. It is usually not as large as the one shown in the image above and is about the size of a thumb or a short ruler, but still, students usually have it.

High school students are especially likely to be wearing a piece of red plastic at this time of year Joint University Admissions Test, a common entrance exam used by many universities, is just around the corner in mid-January. So, to further encourage test takers to take the final exam before the test, student-only ads include the following messages:

“All of you who study with a red sheet on the train, we are sure that you will succeed.”
“You gradually unlock your potential.”
“Good luck to anyone who might read this.”

The ads will run until December 11 and hopefully make testers feel good enough that they won’t need free typo credits to get into the best school.

Source, photos: Press release
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