This week, our head editor Tim O’Hanlon shares with us three quirky new advertisements from Japan. Read on to hear his thoughts and commentary on their content and context.
Imagine a life with no blades – TVC For Seki City
This is a fun new ad in which Seki City showcases its importance as a manufacturing hub by showing us a vision of a world without blades.
Seki City in Gifu is the centre of Japan’s blade and cutlery manufacturing industry and has over 700 years of tradition in blade making. From razors to sushi knives to Katanas, it’s all made in Seki. Infact Seki accounts for about 50% of kitchen knives and 70% of razors that are produced in Japan.
In the ad we see an absurd vision of what life would be without blades: A mother attempting to cut carrots and daikon with her bare hands, a man using masking tape to “wax” his face in lieu of a razor and others. The melancholy music and dark cross-processed colour treatment creates a serious tone for the otherwise comical action that is happening on screen.
Overall it is a really well produced ad; the cinematic feeling and camera work are good. The actors are well directed and I feel like the emotion captured in their reactions reads as genuine – their expressions are excellent. But I can’t help but wonder, what really is the point of it?
For an ad for an entire city, there is a shocking lack of message here. We get a product shot at the end but there is no call to action, no catch line…nothing. I don’t know if this is aimed at tourists, manufacturers or what, but it is being broadcast on national TV so they must be aiming for somebody.
It’s great that they didn’t go with the obvious route of showing the history of people making blades in Seki, the slow motion shots of hammering steel and manufacturing. This view into another world is really engaging, but it’s disappointing because the lack of a message to give it context leaves me wondering “why?”
Starwars & Solar Power – TVC For Sekisui
Another quirky piece of advertising in this TVC, Sekisui uses the star power of R2D2 and C3PO to spruik their new solar homes and smart power station systems.
Sekisui Chemical Co. have recently started offering custom built solar homes that use a solar panel system designed to collect more energy than needed during the day. This energy is then stored in a Smart Power Station system in the home to provide power during the night or to be fed back into to the grid for some financial benefit to the homeowner.
This message is carried clearly through the ad: we begin with the droids spotting a house in the middle of a desert, on Tatooine perhaps, and C3PO remarks that not only does it seem suspicious that there is such a nice house there but that there is no obvious means of electricity reaching it.
As R2D2 rushes towards the house, it suddenly lights up, and as C3PO wonders where this energy is coming from we are taken into a quick sales pitch via voiceover. The solar house system is explained using basic motion graphics and closes with a Sekisui branded screen and what seems to be mandatory in Japanese advertising – a company jingle. The ad then wraps up with C3PO translating for R2D2 “Please let us recharge here!”
Using the Star Wars characters for this ad is a good idea. As the ad implies, the droids need to recharge periodically, so as brand ambassadors they would have an interest in a system that provides power day and night. Secondly with the new movie to be released soon Star Wars hype is riding high in Japan so you’re guaranteed to get some attention using these characters.
Another thing I like is that they have gone to an effort to make this ad feel like it is set in the Star Wars universe. The desert world, the music and droids all bring the feeling of Star Wars to the ad which makes it overall an effective use of the money they must have invested to use the characters.
Wall Farmer’s Market – JA group activation in Shinjuku Station
The Japan Agriculture Cooperatives Group (JA Group) recently transformed part of Shinjuku Station’s underground shopping mall into a farmers market, complete with 80 metres of ‘virtual shelving’ and 2.5 metre, pillar sized daikon, eggplant and other vegetables!
It was installed on Vegetable Day in Japan – August 31.It is so named because the reading of the date “8/31” can be read as “Ya-sa-i” close to “ya-sai” or vegetable in Japanese. Viewers are encouraged to scan the QR codes next to the shelves on the wall and they are then taken to the JA Town online store where they can buy vegetables and fruit online.
While I’m not sure how many people actually used the QR codes, as I didn’t see anybody doing so while visiting, the giant vegetables were a big hit. I saw kids running up and hugging them and lots of passersby stopping to touch the giant vegetables and take selfies with them.
The pillars were made really well with lifelike detail and even some imperfections that you would commonly see on vegetables. The ‘virtual shelves’ were bright and eye catching, even if the photos used were a little over processed.
This activation really transformed the space, which is usually full of giant posters of boy bands.From the reactions I saw it engaged and connected well with people. Even if passersby didn’t use the online store on the day, it certainly worked to drive brand awareness for the JA group.