53. 日本のシーエム!Daily dose of Japanese advertising.

AdFreak is one of my favorite sections of Adweek‘s website. Today, this post caught the attention of the Japanese major in me. I proceeded to spend 5 minutes with a big grin on my face. I most likely displayed a slightly confused expression for the other 51 seconds…

Crazy? Normal? To Americans, it probably seems a little chaotic! I’ve spoken with Japanese ad students before, and they generally agree that Japanese commercials are a bit quirkier and more bizarre than American commercials. I think it depends on which commercials you’re looking at. Who could forget American commercials like the dancing hamsters and robots? Definitely quirky.

With this particular compilation of current Japanese commercials, there were a few that jumped out to me. The ユニクロ/UNIQLO ad that begins at 2:19 is very similar to any other trendy clothing brand commercial in the US. The music is in English and the models are all of different ethnicity. Is this because UNIQLO is an international brand? I wonder if Japanese consumers who shop at UNIQLO are more internationally curious. This ad was also the most revealing of all the ads, showing the models in undergarments as they slip on their jeans. Also – just a fun side-note – I totally tried on a pair of the jeans in the  commercial when I visited UNIQLO in New York City earlier this month. So nice~

The ad at 4:05 for the Japanese rock band, Ace of Spades, is also interesting. It’s all in English! Other than their song, that is. All the text is in English, and the narrator speaks only in English. Could Ace of Spades be trying to attract an international audience? The mood of the ad reminds me of some sort of ad for a metal rock band in the US.

Quickly skipping over the creepy soda gum ad (toddler bodies with grown-up heads…appealing?), starring massive pop girl-group AKB48, we get to the Coke Zero ad. Featuring a soccer team, the ad is all about living on the wild side! Hence the slogan “Wild Health.” This ad reminded me of Chevy Sonic’s skydive ad, upside down shots and all. I noticed in the bottom right corner in tiiiiiiny text, there is a little message urging people to recycle. In Japan, recycling and garbage disposal is something fierce. When I studied abroad there, figuring out which can to put different trash items in was a challenge. Also, the background music is in English. Other Japanese Coke Zero ads use English songs, like this one. Fun fact: The song in that commercial was performed by Terry McDermott, a current contestant on this season of The Voice. These Coke Zero ads also display just how popular soccer is in Japan.

My favorite commercial in this compilation is definitely the one for the job recruitment company with the panda. It’s just plain cute.

I would love to someday be able to learn the strategies behind these Japanese ads, especially the ads trying to appeal to a more international audience. Are they trying to imitate other American ads to draw in consumers who are attracted to the US or other cultures? The more I watch, the more curious I become. While it of course depends on the brand, what does this mean for American companies who want to advertise in Asia? How much should they alter their advertising when many Japanese brands are advertising like American brands? How far can they afford to stray from the brand message/identity? And who are we to say that these Japanese ads are weird or bizarre? In Japan, it’s just normal television. Perhaps Japanese people find our ads boring and plain.

I leave you with more questions and musings than answers…and my favorite collection of Japanese commercials. These Fanta commercials were done by ad agency Hakuhodo. またね!

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