When Nova went bankrupt, my partner and I managed to rescue an entire binliner of tiny packets of tissues with advertisements featuring the Nova bunny inside them. This was great as we’d been left without money to buy luxuries like toilet paper.
Packets of tissues with fliers advertising local businesses are often handed out around train stations and busy shopping streets in Japan. As a foreigner (specifically, a Caucasian otaku goth who has never seen daylight), I get ignored much of the time though. The people handing them out suddenly have to rummage around for more tissues or fliers. Or they dash across to a potential customer further away, hoping I’ll have walked on by the time they’re back in position. Of course, no one owes me free tissues, but I don’t owe them my business either. I remember their names.
Free samples are even harder to get. I’ve been refused everything from green tea to tiny packets of ramen. Doesn’t matter, just narrows down my choices when I choose from their competitors’ brands.
Conversely, I remember the advertisers who don’t look away when I walk past.
Yesterday, I was picking up some stuff in Seiyu (literally the Walmart of Japan), when a saleswoman smiled at me and — without my asking — handed me a free sample of lotion which I immediately stashed in my bag. As I got to the next escalator, a saleswoman from the same company attempted to hand me another one. I was amazed at their dedication and vowed to pay attention to whatever they were selling.
When I got home, I was able to look more closely at what they’d given me… Skin-whitening cream.