Muskogee Central High Class of 1967

Still "Doin' It" after all these years (breathing)

Exactly why it’s so important for Japanese superstars

Even if you can’t understand what’s being said on Japanese TV, it’s difficult to miss the truth that nearly every TV spot and, for example, a good chunk of print ads, feature Japanese celebrities shucking various products.

In order to the Western vision, this can be a little confusing. Sure, sometimes advertisements in English-speaking nations will fall back again on (mostly) has-been stars to lend credibility to this or that used car dealership or diet product, but the majority of time Western commercials star everyday folks. Most surmise this is so the consumer – his/herself most likely an everyman/woman – feels an psychological reference to the advertisement.

However, Japanese advertisement agencies hire TELEVISION and movie stars much, if not most, of the time. So prevalent is the practice that Western stars aren’t above traveling to Japan "Lost in Translation"-style for a week or so of juggling live humans and yelling broken-English catchphrases for a round of Japanese advertisements finishing in a major short term.

Just as there are good reasons Traditional western adverts use daily folks, there are good reasons they don’t use celebrities: for one, if the star him/herself isn’t extremely famous and trusted, there’s a chance that celeb’s presence in the commercial could have the alternative of the desired effect. Would you trust, say, a loan agency repped by a madly twerking Miley Cyrus? On the flip side, many stars are reluctant to do TV advertising for fear of being of a reflectivity of the gold product.

So, why is Japan so quick to trust celebrity-endorsed products? Japan blog site Madame Riri weighed in recently, reasoning – through interview with a foreign Asia expert – that the Japanese are more likely to look to others for advice – especially from people they know and trust, or at minimum perceive themselves to know and trust.

This even creates a weird spin out of control where the more commercials a person appears in, the more famous they become. Commercial looks are almost a requirement to becoming a household name in Japan. There’s much speculation this is the very reason Hollywood’s most recent go-to Western star, Rinko Kikuchi of "Pacific Rim" – that has hardly appeared in Western advertising – consistently fails to make any waves in Japan despite global fame.

There are certainly pros and cons to each approach, and each approach says a lot about the separate cultures. Certain, japan may look a little gullible when clamoring for whatever product SMAP is pushing lately. Yet on the other hand, it may say a lot about the trustworthiness of Western industry that these superstars aren’t reluctant to endorse for fear of losing face if a product doesn’t work like it should.

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