Japanese TV ads

12 Feb

All about Japanese TV ads. The good, the bad and the I-don’t-know-what-happened. The one thing I like about Japanese commercials is … well , how bizarre they can be. While I’ve been in the advertising industry all my life (well, since I graduate that is) I try to link it back to the theories my professors have enlightened me with. But I guess sometimes, even the most culturally sensitive neurotransmitter in me has to acknowledge that Japanese commercials simply refutes all common senses.

The ad above is by Ajinomoto Stadium. A good ad but strange as it seems, the marketing strategy behind it is a bit weird. We seldom see stadiums advertising itself as the product but this one did and the creative strategy is to be kudos-ed .  I mean, just how do you advertise a boring venue that seemingly have not much USPs (unique selling point) other than its one function of hosting events or perhaps its locality.  I’ve no idea which agency did this but the Creative Director apparently aimed at the closet fact that you’re (or rather its target audience) is suffering form beautiful women malnutrition and perhaps they’ve been missing all the “action” at the local sports game too (including the women).

The general rule for all kinds of ads is to capture the product’s target audience or instill a memory so that they remember that the company is perhaps still alive (- my theory as to why branding ads survives). They say that it’s hard enough to capture the attention of the audience in that few 15 – 30 seconds. While most Japanese commercial lasts only 15 secs (unlike the 30 sec norm here), I like the fact that the gist of this stadium only appeared for like what 2 seconds at closing of the ad but hey everybody remembers.

Quite contrary, given that Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries, it’s not unusual for a  US tech product to be advertised on mainstream TV. So what would you predict a Microsoft software ad to look like? Check it out below. ( Good Lord I do pray that there are better ones out there.)

The last frame says “Oshigoto Windows” which vaguely translates to “Windows for work”. The idea that anyone could be this excited about using Windows is hilarious enough as it is. It’s no wonder the karoshi(過労死) rate increased. And then again, back then, why would something for office work be advertised on mainstream TV targeted at the normal consumers. Shouldn’t it go corporate?

This one uses women again. The notion that “Sex Sells”, well, sells but frankly, I find it a little disturbing when the copies fly out of her ahems… (゚Д゚;) What ever the case, we’ll never look at our office copier the same way again.

Nitendo Branding

This Nitendo one is a branding ad. Shot in Hong Kong and tastefully done. Doesn’t say much about a particular product or game but gives the most impressive brand recall at the last few frames. It’s unusual to see a 2 minute commercial (any where) simply because air-time is so darn expensive. So why the need to roll out a 2 minuter for just a branding ad? – I guess perhaps Nitendo was facing some strong competition that time and its wroth every ounce of investment to fight for its target audience just to ensure they remain in their market share and so stake holders won’t crumble and cry & that salary men will not start pulling their karoshi stunts. On the other hand, they just might be sharing advertising budgets regionally so might as well come out with one big one that they can use within the whole region. Though I must say it didn’t reach South East Asia. haha. I love the song – anybody know what song?

While some ads looks really awesome. I simply can’t comprehend this one. I can’t even imagine what the Sega marketing team was thinking when they conjured this ad with the ad agency.  it totally refutes all advertising theories I’ve learned. Might I say “Back to the creative brief!”. I think this one appeared before the Nitendo one above.. and I was thanking my lucky stars that Nit did not follow the footsteps of coming up with some apparently senseless ad to counter. ヽ(´Д`ヽ)(/´Д`)/イヤァ~ン

This is another of my favourite. The product is your usual FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), basically stuff you find in the supermarkets/convenience stores. So there you have, a client with (yet another) green tea drink to sell. And being a land that’s already infested with an abundant green tea population, how do you push this particular one? It seems that the USP is premium tea leaves that even the bugs are fighting for. The ad starts off with a super emo cut of father and child journeying for food, complete with sentimental music laid to evoke your senses…but then drops out the moment the cliffhanger appeared.

The ad instills the essence of Japan – tea drinking but done up with hilarious exaggerated motions commonly depicted in anime or manga. The decision to have him kick up a big fuss with mini bugs with super emotional expressions is perhaps a little perplexing, although strangely adorable.  Simply cute. Oh well, never mind the boring theories behind the ads. Just enjoy chibi caterpilly and its super cute voice. So cute, it’s my SMS ring tone now. LOL.

While there are some really commendable ads out there I’d say there are some that’s really well, beyond words. Seriously I know that sometimes you need to shout about your product, but please do it in a way that doesn’t challenge your audience’s IQ.

It appears that it is a series. I’m sure there are other versions out there but this one… eek Zombies? ヽ(`д´;)/  うおおおお!?

This is much better. I think it’s a revision after the disastrous teasers. The launch of Pocky Men – targeted at men … with women … ghees they ought to upgrade our status more. But you know, at the end of the day … “Anata mo watashi mo Pocky~!” damn it monopolizes me Grey cells!

All in all, if you don’t  dwell too much on the philosophies behind the ads,  I feel that the Japo commercials are really fun to watch. They’re impactful and usually leaves an impression (good AND bad. LOL) I remember my Japanese friend once told me that it’s because that the stress level in Japan is so high that people wants to see something hilarious when they reach home.. Perhaps that’s really the case… perhaps.


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  1. AS

    Friday, 13 February, 2009 at 10:21

    Haha, I remember watching these commercials ^^. I’ve never seen the Sega commercial before but now can say that I have xD. Japanese commercials are much more interesting than the ones I see in the US.

  2. kasumi

    Friday, 13 February, 2009 at 19:16

    Muahaha! I like the first ad the most!

  3. Adun

    Saturday, 14 February, 2009 at 06:14

    When I first saw Japanese ads, they weirded me out. Actually some still weird me out but nowadays I do find some humour in them.

  4. ron~

    Saturday, 14 February, 2009 at 20:37

    haha i still think japanese ads are the best :D

  5. Zinc

    Sunday, 15 February, 2009 at 19:57

    Singapore ads should really take a page from the Jap ad bible, they’re easy to digest, hilarious and most importantly memorable. Isn’t that the main objective? The so called “standards” or “guidelines” they teach in creative schools are just binding free flowing creativity. Where’s the fun in viewing “standardized” ads? It’s that same ol “been there, done that” kind of feeling. I guess companies who set out to make ads declare so many constraints that they not only lost focus on the big picture but also snuff out any form of creativity. Bigger logo, checked. Elaborate description of product, checked. More pictures/angles of product, checked. The list just goes on. On the other hand, Jap ads only have 1, yes uno, checkbox, that is, lasting impression, anything else is secondary and that’s the way ads should be. A split second shot of the advertised product or anything that breaks convention triggers human curiosity to find out more. Just an example, Youtube clips of Jade Seah spouting the F word on Olympics gathered tons of views and watching myself, I only managed to catch it only after a few repeats which made me wondered how people managed to catch that and got it recorded! Right, it’s not an ad but it does break conventions, how often do you hear vulgarities on local TV? More importantly it spread like wildfire, I bet it became one of the most searched entries on Google Singapore for that week. Oh yah, did I also mentioned that Singapore TV productions are hopeless, they’re an insult and eyesore to anyone that can see.

  6. Zinc

    Sunday, 15 February, 2009 at 20:06

    Not sure when the Sega ad was shown but it reminded me part of the company’s history back in the late 90s. Back then, the management was in peril, part of the board wanted to only focus on developing games while the rest wanted to do hardware and software. The end result, the Dreamcast was launched and it became a flop, in fact they lost on both hardware and software fronts and a chunk of market share. Long story short, the ad reflected the state Sega was in back then, beaten up… badly, maybe that was the message to the shareholders. At least they’re getting the act together nowadays with more quality releases. Virtual Tennis, anyone?

  7. dice

    Monday, 16 February, 2009 at 11:33

    @ AS: yeah the Japanese ads are interesting probably they’re not very mainstream with the rest of the world. LOL I’ve haven’t seen much US ads though.

    @ Kasumi: deshou? I can just picture the creative brief!

    @ Adun: LOL I get what you mean about getting weird-ed out.

    @ ron~: Yeah they’re always fresh to watch

    @ zinc: woah essay there! good points. Especially agree with the Bigger LOGO thingy! But you know the so called standards and guidelines falls mainly with the client’s marketing strategy but that again boils down to and how the market / audience perceives as what is acceptable and what’s not. If i come down to the core, there’s only the culture and mentality of the audience to “blame”. I haven’t watched the famous Jade Seah saga. LOL didn’t know about it as I was in Japan during the Olympics. Different coverage they have. I prolly should google for it now. LOL

    Oh and the Sega ad.. I didn’t know about that but it sure makes sense..

  8. tony

    Saturday, 26 December, 2009 at 11:14

    even their Christmas commercials are fun to watch