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This chapter details the interpretation in Japan of one of the ur-texts of media theory in North America and (Western) Europe, Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media. McLuhan’s work also possesses canonical status in Japan, where the term media-ron (“media theory”) emerges around the introduction of the Canadian media theorist’s work. This introduction was channeled by a kind of doppelgänger theorist who both mirrors and redirects McLuhan’s very flexible body of work: Takemura Ken’ichi, a man deeply embedded in the advertising world. The chapter outlines the contours of the lively public debates around McLuhan’s work in the late 1960s. These debates—which often revolve around how well McLuhan can be used in advertising practice—suggest the important ties between media theory and commercial practice that inform media theorization in Japan to this day, and highlight the key institutional role advertising agencies played in introducing and popularizing media theoretical work, as “actionable theory.”

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