Our favorite Hollywood-in-Japan commercials of the 90s

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Empathy is at the heart of design. Seth Godin reminds us to make our products/services for the people who really need them. 

“Desperate Times and Double Measures.” When you don’t think you have enough time for proper strategizing, you definitely don’t have enough time to skip it. 

Sam’s Ad of the Week: Consider this an amuse-bouche to get you in the zone for the feature below. (And yes, that is John Travolta. And yes, he has got some moves!)

Our favorite Hollywood-in-Japan commercials of the 90s

Creative Field Trip: Exploring Hollywood’s Amazing Advertising Adventures in Japan

Over the years, many of the western world’s biggest stars have journeyed eastward to earn some extra scratch and expand their global image by doing TV commercials in Japan, likely thinking no one back home would ever be hip to them.

Oh, but then the internet and online video streaming came along — and now many of these forgotten gems are just a few clicks away, waiting to be rediscovered like buried treasure!

To be fair, I think these ads are a delight.

The culture mash-up is fascinating, and you could easily fill a term paper with an analysis on the intersecting elements of individualism and collectivism and the glorified (or parodied) macho identity seemingly at play in many of them.

But from a purely stylistic standpoint, they are wildly energetic, unabashedly surreal and downright entertaining… kind of like those silly fragrance commercials, on steroids.

So with that, let us set our compasses for fun and embark on an advertising expedition to unearth the best ones we can find!

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger for Alinamin V Energy Drink

The Governator has appeared in a plethora of Japanese ads. But I have to say, the most enjoyable are these energy drink spots where he plays the recurring role of a “Clark Kent Type” salaryman who is transformed into a sort of maniacal genie when he drinks the magical elixir. 

(Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRLe826lyao )

 

Edward Furlong for Hot Noodle

In keeping with stars of the Terminator franchise, let’s take a look at this lil’ ditty with Edward Furlong, commonly known as John Connor from T2: Judgement Day. Here, Edward is cast in the “steamy” role of a teapot preparing a delicious cup of noodle soup. It covers a lot of ground in 15 short seconds.

(Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mqhDWKIwbE)

 

Cindy Crawford for Pocari Sweat

I jotted down three notes while watching this ad: (1) Pocari Sweat appears to be the ultimate electrolyte replenisher for any intergalactic workout routine — like gatorade for the characters of Final Fantasy. (2) Cindy Crawford’s gym is WAY cooler than mine. (3) The black panther and the alien-gremlin-thing at the :19 mark are a nice touch.

(Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5AvV7OLfiw)

 

Nicolas Cage for Sankyo Pachinko

No surprises here. Nicolas Cage’s commercials in Japan are one wild ride. Here, he is promoting the popular Japanese pinball game Pachinko, although you’d be forgiven for not picking that up on the first viewing. It’s worth watching the full string-out of them here if you have the time. He had me at “Sweet peanut butter and a slow-burning candle.”

(Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYkw-5htPw0)

 

Tommy Lee Jones for Boss Coffee

Turns out, TLJ is the f#!@in’ man in Japan. He’s been in numerous campaigns and lent his patented mean-mug to billboards and coffee stands across the country through his endorsement of Boss Coffee. Here, we see him in full-on Principal Belding mode as Boss gives him the energy he needs to lay down the law with some unruly high school students… and the ability to shoot lasers out of his eyeballs of course.

(Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE21qQHlOLQ)

And that concludes our advertising adventure for today. Hope you enjoyed the trip and stay tuned for our next creative destination!

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