Friday, December 22, 2006

TV Commercials

The December ranking chart for the most popular TV commercials in Japan have been annouced today and the winner for December was this series "gas-pa-cho" which is a kind of a new gas heating system. The survey is conducted monthly and generation-separately and in fact this CM series won first place among the high school students in the past but this is the first time to rank top among older generations.

In Japanese culture TV commercials are kind of like a part of entertainment: of course their primary focus is to fulfill the purpose of advertising the product, but taking that for granted they have to be fun.

So to make the commercials entertaining, many of them feature famous figures especially showbiz celebrities. I once heard that in the States, celebrities like Hollywood actors/actresses appearing in TV commercials kind of denotes the decline of the person in that career. I don't know how true that is, but it's exaclty the opposite in Japan. The more popular you are the more commercial offers you get.
In my analysis, Japanese people tend to charismatize and idolize pop stars and dream of wanting to become like them so that's what makes using pop stars in commercials effective ways to promote the product.

The other way to attract TV viewers to the commercial besides using famous figures and maitaining high level of visual artistic quality is to make it like a short short ongoing drama of just a few seconds.

The most successful commercials lately using this method was KDDI's CM on "au" (mobile carrier). Not only it featured the popular actress Nakama Yukie, each commercial for "au" for this certain period was like fragments of a story. The "au" original song that Nakama sang as a singer in the commercial too became so popular that they released it as a single CD.

Credit card company Life's CM is another long-run hit. This one feature's another pop actor Odagiri Jo and the way the commercials end is just like how a soap opera ends each air. At the very end it says "see website for more" and this proves to be extremely effective. Like the song in "au" this item "lifecard" Odagiri uses in the CM is now made into a product for sale.

Going back to "gas-pa-cho" - this is actually my favorite commercial at the moment. There are several versions, and each of them pick up famous historical figures like Galileo Galilei, Flemming, Beethoven, Oda Nobunaga, Onono Imoko, Newton, the Chushingura samurais, Shakespeare (and is interpretor) so on so forth with the actor Tsumabuki Satoshi playing the protagonist. This commercial so marvelously turns these "difficult figures" of the history textbook in to a 10-second-comedy that makes you chuckle if not burst our laughing.

The first one of this series that I saw was Galileo Galilei ver. and this really caught me. My favorite now is Onono Imoko ver. I think many of them are available on YouTube so if you're curious to see what they're like, go to YouTube and search "gas-pa-cho" ;-)

Today's update on Japan Mode:
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