To the naked eye, these ads look like gibberish, but students cramming for entrance exams can see through the mystery.

When putting out an advertisement, you generally want as many people as possible to see it, and in that sense Japanese energy drink Zone Energy went the traditional route with its new promotional campaign. The company selected Shibuya and Ikebukuro Stations, two of the busiest rail hubs in Japan, to put its ads up in.

But while everyone can see that Zone Energy has ads in the stations, not everyone can see what those ads say, since, by design, they’re “ads that only students studying for entrance exams can see.”

At first glance, the top majority of the ads look like a printing or rendering error. There are messages hidden within the jumbled-looking mass of white, pink, and magenta splotches, though, which reveal themselves provided you’ve got a piece of translucent red plastic with you.

But who walks around town carrying that sort of thing? Students. In Japan, supplementary textbooks and study aids commonly have the solutions to their drills printed in a way so that they can’t be seen unless they’re looked at through red-tinted plastic, and pretty much any student who’s commuting to or from cram school, or getting in a little self-study on the train, has a sheet or strip of the material with them. It’s usually not as big as the one shown in the above image, and closer in size to your thumb or a short ruler, but still, it’s something students will generally have on them.

High schoolers are especially likely to have a piece of red plastic on them at this time of year, since the Common Test for University Admissions, a shared entrance exam used by multiple universities, is right around the corner in mid-January. So to give some extra encouragement to examinees during their final test-pre push, the for-students-only ads have messages like:

“To everyone studying with a red sheet on the train, we’re sure you’re going to succeed.”
“Little by little, you’re unlocking your potential.”
“Wishing good luck to everyone who can read this.”

The ads will be up until December 11, and hopefully will boost examinees’ spirits enough that they won’t need typo-related freebie points to get into their top-choice school.

Source, images: Press release
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