Since America dropped the bomb on the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan has increasingly been embracing them in ways that they could never have imagined.
Why do I say that? Well, I recently stumbled upon something in a Japanese supermarket that I frequent (yes, I am a big fan of cold soba noodles and the occasional green tea biscuit) which got me thinking about that. I was walking the aisles, trying to figure out the difference between the $6 and $5 bottles of Soba sauce when it struck me (the image, not the Soba sauce bottles). This is what I saw:
Jack Black Mocha Blend canned coffee.
How strange is that?!!
I must admit, it could’ve just been a coincidence of naming; I mean, it wasn’t like there was Jack Black’s mug posted all over the can – but then again, I’ve been to Tokyo – I know for a fact that if you look left and right in Shibuya – at the world’s busiest intersection – Brad Pitt can be seen peddling Softbank cellphones, Leo DiCaprio is hawking SUVs and Bruce Willis is a die hard Eneos petrol station supporter.
In fact, I’m so enamored by the Bruce Willis Eneos commercial that I’ve posted the YouTube link here for all of you to have a laugh at.
So what is it that makes American stars come to Japan to “bare/sell their commercial souls”?
I suppose it’s easy to explain when you’re a washed-out star like the character that Bill Murray plays in Lost In Translation. It’s obvious that stars like that come to Japan in search of the following two things:
a) A quick paycheck
b) Another shot at fame
Most would say it’s the first reason that’s compelling and not so much the second. I mean, let’s face it, most of the stars would rather be caught without underwear by Perez Hilton than ply the goods they’re unabashedly advertising in Japan. In fact, most of them think that the commercials are cheesy, tacky and generally in poor taste. Just look at Lost In Translation. Can you just hear Bill Murray going:
“For good times, make it Suntori time.”
So it’s the money that drives them to do it, then. It’s reported that Japanese companies pay millions of dollars to Hollywood stars to advertise their products. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. Yup, I guess that pretty much explains the Bruce Willis fiasco you just saw.
Well, whatever the case for or against the stars, you have to admit, advertising is, in a large part, controlled by the public; in Japan, it’s obvious that America’s hold on them is still pretty strong. Just take a stroll through the streets of Harajuku and you’ll be struck by just how many teenagers have blonde hair / dress up like Elvis Presley / are dancing like Usher. I mean, they even have a statue of Elvis there for God’s sake!
At the end of the day though, you’ll have to admit that it works. It’s the only reason why that can of Sapporo Jack Black Mocha Blend made its way off the shelf of the supermarket onto my desk right now.
I could’ve got Nescafe. I could’ve drunk Pokka. I could’ve had a Coke.
But of course, I’d like my coffee (Jack) black, please.