Japanese company tests the bounds of “common sense” by using Ghibli art to advertise their wares. 

Studio Ghibli has long protected its works with a watchful eye, and sharp sword, over the years, so companies know to steer clear of using the studio’s art in their campaigns without prior consultation. Back in April, when the studio released official backgrounds for Zoom meetings during the pandemic, they even stated that the images weren’t to be used for ads, saying: “Cannot be used for commercial purposes nor to advertise products or businesses.”

However, the 18 September release of 400 free images from Studio Ghibli was caveated with a much broader, open-for-interpretation statement from producer Toshio Suzuki that read: “Please use them freely within the scope of common sense”.

▼ Suzuki’s handwritten request appears on the download page for the free images.

While a lot of companies would likely err on the side of caution and take that to mean the free art shouldn’t be used for financial gain, this is 2020, when a lot of businesses are struggling to make ends meet, so it’s inevitable that some businesses might test the boundaries of “common sense” when it comes to using the free images.

Now, the first business to test those boundaries has appeared, and they’ve used a series of select images to put forward the question: “What if high-spec Drieasy mugs were used in Studio Ghibli works?

▼ The company behind the new campaign is the award-winning Ugadell Design, who make the “high-spec” easy-to-dry mugs in Japan.

Ugadell says they were full of praise for Ghibli’s decision to release so many images from their works for free, and as fans of the studio they wanted to get involved. So they decided to edit their mugs into some of the images in the hope that Drieasy might become “as universal and innovative as the works of Studio Ghibli”.

Some of the images are used as-is, while others have been edited to show what the scene would look like with the addition of a hot beverage. The first of their edited images uses a scene from From Up on Poppy Hill, which comes with the text: “From the front it has the shape of an everyday mug. It might be a Drieasy.”

▼ Original image (sans mug) from Studio Ghibli

This edited picture from The Wind Rises shows what the scene would look like with a brightly coloured mug on the table. “A red mug that definitely stands out. That must be a Drieasy in ‘cherry'” 

▼ Original image from Studio Ghibli

Spirited Away: “There’s a notch under the handle on the mug used by Sen so this must be a Drieasy.”

▼ Original image from Studio Ghibli

Ponyo: “All Ghibli works have impressive, delicious-looking dining settings. It’s our hope these mugs can be casually used in scenes like this.”

▼ Original image from Studio Ghibli

In their unedited picture collection, there’s an image from When Marnie Was There, which comes with the text: “Purple accents here and there in the room. Surely that’s a Drieasy in the colour ‘grape'”.

The Secret World of Arrietty: “Miniature Drieasy prototype was lost, but it ended up here.”

Spirited Away“It’s small and difficult to make out, but because there’s some drink left over in the mug used by Kamaji this is undoubtedly a Drieasy.”  

The final image in their promotional campaign adds some Ghibli sparkle to an actual Drieasy mug. “Conversely, the Drieasy ‘hygiene’ function explained with Konpeito.”

Ugadell says:

“By just saying, ‘Please use them freely within the boundaries of common sense’, we felt Studio Ghibli’s deep love for ‘people and works of art’.  We sincerely hope that Studio Ghibli will continue to grow.”

Despite the kind words, which read as a safety net of their own, the two remaining founders of Studio Ghibli, Suzuki and director Hayao Miyazaki — sadly, Isao Takahato passed away in 2018 are ultimately in control of who can use their works and how.

It’s yet to be revealed whether this cheeky campaign will result in any legal ramifications for the makers of the mugs, but there’s actually a chance that the studio’s free image release, and the purposefully vague caveat covering it, wasn’t just designed to bring smiles to members of the public during these trying times, but businesses who need some help promoting their products too.

Still, a line may have to be drawn somewhere or else companies everywhere stand to make a profit on the back of Studio Ghibli. However, given the studio’s passionate stance on conservation and environmental issues, if your company isn’t doing all the right things when it comes to the environment, that might be the line where using these images counts as being outside the boundaries of “common sense”.

Source, images: PR Times 
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