I met one of the bosses of one of the biggest international television networks in the world the other day. He is a Canadian. He travels all over the world and, because he is in the TV business, he told me that one of his favorite things to do in every country was to judge by TV commercials what things were important to that particular society.
Japan's TV commercials? Insurance for this or that; home sales; automobiles; financial instruments and plans; candy, cosmetics, fast food... Companies like Zurich, Sekisui, Kanebo.... Japanese commercials that soft sell and are emotive commercials.
I think that's right.
He also told me that he was "astounded" by just how many over the counter drug and prescription medication commercials there were on US TV all the time. US TV commercials? Drugs, Cholesterol, Machismo ("my ding-a-ling is bigger than yours" commercials); fast food; commercials to make your dick hard, make it soft, put you to sleep, keep you awake, lower blood pressure, lose weight; not to mention commercials galore for people with extreme anxiety and panic attacks and defense attorneys for DUI and more.
Oh, and don't forget the drug side effects disclaimers!
Very sick society?
Why is the USA this way? It wasn't that way 50 years ago, was it?
Here's one piece of anecdotal evidence: Japan has its problems too, but here is something that will drop the jaws of all Americans... Did you know that in Japan, on any given day, you can get on a bus, train or subway and see unaccompanied 5 and 6 year old kids going to and from school?
Little 5 and 6-year-old kids riding the trains by themselves in no fear of danger... And the other passengers think nothing of it. Why? Because that is normal in Japan. It should be normal everywhere... Alas....
Think about that.
I don't really have any conclusions to point out (I've made mine). Dear reader, please think of the ramifications of what I have written here and come to your own conclusion.
Here is a recent Japanese TV commercial that is a soft sell and very emotive. This is a commercial for a new computer sales and service company.
Thanks to my good friend, James Santagata for co-writing this article with me! James, you are tops!
Could it be that pharma TV ads are simply illegal in Japan (just as they used to be in the US?)
Ugh... it's true. Here in Canada it's lots of insurance company ads, nutraceutical and pharma ads for drugs... oh... and plenty of ads for banks and new cars.
So at least we have money to spend (or save).
There's nothing wrong with the US showing all those ads (and their side-effects) on TV. We Canadians see those ads on our TV (because we get lots of US programming), but can't purchase them (or get recommended by OUR doctors), because well... that's not how we do things up here.
Sure, the side-effects seem worse than the disease it is hopeful of curing - so that sucks...
But... I think that more and more diseases are simply getting diagnosed. In the old days (30 years ago and earlier - ha!) men were all macho and wouldn't see a doctor unless they physically collapsed. Nowadays, we go because it's the smart thing to do... or maybe we go because we have better health coverage nowadays... we sure do in Canada.
I'm unsure if it's fair to slam the US this time, Mike. Yeah - obesity, diabetes is all up and through the roof in North America... agreed. And we are doing something about it.
But Japanese television is a wasteland. (Okay, I no longer have a proper frame of reference, but it was just crap 30 years ago... and I bet nothing's changed now).
WHY the fug do they need foreign actors to pepper their ads? Why do they need that single phrase in English? Why can't a product be wholly-Japanese and still be cool? I've seen a few... I know it works... even in Japanese music... why toss in a nonsensical English word or phrase?
So... tell me... what commercials are all the rage in Japan this year? More booze? Hey, Canada has plenty of those ads. Pep drinks? Detergent? Does Japan schedule ads dependent on the audience watching the programs? Kids commercials during kid shows... commercials aimed at women during whatever show... do they even make commercials for men, considering women do all the purchasing for the household?
Did your Canadian buddy talk about what's popular (ads) in Canada now - and why? Don't leave me hanging, Mike!
American society had a documentary with minor celebrities celebrating the looting in the 1970s New York City blackout. I doubt Japan has that. The same NYC that had a jewish ten year old boy molested, murdered, and mutilated. Japan had cannibal of Australian women escaping justice. So, better is better but not blameless.
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