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Published on September 9th, 2010 | by Éilish Burke

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Ad Nauseam: Konnichiwa Celebrities!

The new Alfa Romeo ad for their Giulietta model, starring the ever-fabulous Uma Thurman brought this to mind:

In the film Lost in Translation Bill Murray is an ever-so-slightly-washed-up actor visiting Japan, a country in which his stock is still high, to make a commercial for the premium whiskey brand Suntory. I thought this was a made-up product until I discovered a certain ever-so-slightly-washed-up actor who has been stumbling around in Suntory ads, crystal tumbler in hand, for quite a while.

Japan has the 3rd largest economy in the world, even though it is the only the 61st biggest nation in terms of size. It leads the world in technology and product innovation so it’s unsurprising then that in Japan, consumerism is king. Naturally all of this stuff must be marketed and the Japanese spare no expense when it comes to their advertising. They will pay mega-bucks to get Hollywoods hottest stars to promote their products. But superstars don’t always want the rest of the world to know they are advertising mid-range family cars in the Far East – so they have their lawyers draw up contractual agreements which stipulate the commercials are only aired within the country. All an effort to maintain exclusivity (and a corresponding higher fee) for their ‘personal brands’. Of course, YouTube crosses all borders so now we get to have a sneaky look at just what these celebs are getting paid those handsome appearance fees for.

Of all the Hollywood hotshots to take the Yen and run, Brad Pitt has been the most exposed. He has done work for Rolex, Toyota, Softbank, Edwin Jeans and Roots (coffee drink).

So Brad has probably done it most often, but here are some classic Japanese commercials starring other Hollywood stars:

John Travolta gets sweaty for Tokyo Drink:

Paul Newman saves a day ruined by a birthday cake FAIL by suggesting a cuppa Maxwell Blendy:

Britney pops pills, I mean, er, candy for Suki:

And even the King of Pop couldn’t resist spreading his ‘love message’ for Suzuki:

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About the Author

Éilish writes the Ad Nauseam series of posts for Culch.ie as well as some other bit and bobs. She used to work in adland and still likes to dissect the advertising she comes across, though these days mainly from the comfort of her couch and in the form of angry tirades while her flatmate rolls her eyes to heaven. She secretly harbours smug feelings that instead of saving and putting a deposit on a house she spent all her life savings on extravagant holidays and has therefore escaped a lifetime in negative equity. She co-runs a company called Amp Music Marketing. You can get in touch with her at eilishburke{at}gmail{dot}com or follow her on Twitter.



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