It is not new that the Japanese are the masters of creativity. But they don't know the limit on creativity when it comes to creating TV commercials. Japanese commercials are called komeesharu [コマーシャル] and today you will see some.
This article is a complete survey of Japanese commercials, if you are in this article just to see the funny videos, they are at the end of the article. You can use the summary below to skip to that part.
Why are Japanese commercials so strange?
Throughout this article you will understand the answer to that question. Of course, there are many factors that make Japanese commercials seem strange to Western eyes, such as the use of generic special effects that tokusatsu.
Another main factor is the different culture, the Japanese think differently than Westerners, so a lot that doesn't make sense to Westerners, makes sense to Japanese people. Another factor is the rules and culture of Japanese commercials.
In this article, you will see that the Japanese have a very short time for commercial, and that they do not have the habit of talking about the product or displaying its price. They need through the unconscious to make the viewer like the commercial to like the product.
THE Kawaii Culture also has great influence on these commercials. Japanese people are used to using cute things like bears, drawings and fictional characters that constantly appear in Japanese commercials.
How are Japanese commercials?
In Japanese commercials, they only have 15 to 20 seconds to draw attention to a certain product or brand, and many of these commercials are culturally different from ours. So it is difficult to understand the purpose of these commercials.
The commercials are full of moe, kawaii, strange lines, bizarre attitudes and actions, apart from the clothes, scenery, and everything that appears that makes Japanese commercials unique and fun.
Some can be exciting, others interesting and of course, most can cause a question about "What the hell is this?" ... Other than that you still have the opportunity to see the bizarre Japanese products.
THE Commercial Broadcasting Association established that the time standard for commercials is 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds and 60 seconds in article 151 of the broadcast standard.
For TV commercials, spot commercials are sold in 15-second units and temporal commercials are sold in 30-second units (with some exceptions). CMs produced in 60 seconds are often seen on the internet.
Generally, films, series and anime receive a 15-second PV in addition to a trailer. Usually a theme song can be linked to this type of video. Japanese commercials tend to focus more on the content of the commercial than on the product.
The history of Japanese TV commercials
The first Japanese TV commercial was for Seiko, a watch company. The commercial was broadcast as a kind of weather forecast on NTV. During these forty years, countless TV commercials have aired;
Most of them soon became outdated and forgotten and some of them were remembered nostalgically as a mirror for the past. In the first twenty years, Japanese TV commercials gave viewers the “dream” of a modernized lifestyle.
Consumer goods like home appliances, cars, medicines and Western foods - things that help people modernize and simplify life - were broadcast continuously until the name of the products could be the subject of a little conversation over tea.
For Japanese TV commercials, the 1970s were the decade of evolution. The role of TV commercials has become not only to inform people about new products, but also to stimulate the desire to buy.
through various advertising tactics, companies have encouraged us to buy their products or services, making us more judicious in the selection. Generally, TV commercials attract our attention even before informing the product.
The rules of Japanese commercials
Perhaps one of the reasons for commercials Japanese are so bizarre and strangers is by the rules that they need to follow. Such rules leave them hands tied, causing them to resort to strange tactics to get the viewer’s attention.
See the main rules of Japanese TV commercials:
- The CM should not use expressions that deny a healthy society or lifestyle (Article 91);
- The CM must somehow clarify that it is a commercial (Article 92);
- Do not use expressions that could lead to the violation of free competition (Article 97);
- You must not exaggerate the facts and let your viewers overestimate (Article 100);
- When expressing an impossible scene in real life, the text “(This is a CM production)” is displayed on the screen;
- A message is displayed on the screen when the product is different from the one advertised;
- CM must not use false testimonials about the product or testimonies whose source is not clear (Article 102);
- Do not unfairly use the sense of trust in the main character of the program;
- Do not describe dangerous acts that can be imitated;
Because of these rules, tire commercials use European cars instead of Japanese ones. Beverage commercials need to say things like after drinking, throw the empty container for recycling and things like that.
In perfume or fabric softener commercials, a statement says: “There are individual differences in how you smell. Please consider the people around before using it ”. Children’s commercials must be declared as such.
There are super strict and specific rules for pharmaceutical companies. Doctors and pharmacists cannot recommend drugs in commercials. Pharmaceutical products must not be presented as awards within others.
Of course, there are many other rules, not least because we quote only about 8 articles among hundreds of them. Some may be suggestions, others are absolute rules. Some articles are specific to radio commercials and other advertising spaces.
Differences between Japanese and Western TV Commercials
What are the differences between Japanese and Western television commercials? Akiyama did research on this subject for ten years. Despite being an old survey, I believe that the main points listed below have not changed at all.
In the western commercials Akiyama listed some characteristics that are:
- Aggressive use of language;
- Lots of words on the TV screen;
- Reading the words on the screen;
- Frequent price display;
- Common use of dramatizations as “based on a true story”;
- Music - like jingles, background music and songs;
- Frequent use of comparative or challenging ads;
- Close relationship between the concept of advertisements and the product or service;
- Variation in the duration of commercials: most are 60 seconds or 30 seconds;
- There is greater consistency between products / services and image;
- Celebrities including movie stars and singers;
- The use of free is often seen;
- Tobacco commercials are prohibited;
- Public advertising, health care and insurance;
In conclusion, we understand that western commercials use language to communicate the name and characteristics of the product in a positive and aggressive way. They often make comparisons with rivals, and readily reflect social trends.
According to a long survey of several Japanese TV channels, we concluded that Japanese commercials have the following characteristics:
- A smile to express happiness and satisfaction with a certain product and service;
- Close-ups of women, especially those of actresses, singing idols, movie stars and TV talent, often appear instead of information about the product’s content and effectiveness;
- Gestures often appear as an effective means of communication;
- "Soft selling" approaches as opposed to "hard selling" - are common;
- Inconsistency between the visual image and the product or service;
- Most frequent appearance of TV personalities;
- Using trained animals, beauties, children;
- Foreigners often appear, especially Caucasians;
- Use of music to improve the image;
- Frequent use of concepts in which tradition and modernity combine to produce a beautiful contrast;
- The use of foreign languages, especially English;
- Frequent use of puns;
- The concept of "family" is often a central concept in advertising;
- Public service announcements are rare;
- Comparative or challenge announcements are rare;
- Advertising for alcoholic beverages and tobacco is common;
- The frequent appearance of mini-dramas or stories in commercials;
- Except for discount stores, supermarkets and junk foods, the appearance of prices is rare;
- Reduction of commercial transmission time; 15 or 30 seconds is common;
We can see the huge contrast between Japanese television commercials from Westerners. The price of things is not used much, the commercials are shorter, they generally do not have much of a relationship with the product, focusing more on history and on TV people.
The Japanese use little speech to publicize the products, focusing more on expressions and events around the commercial. Generally facial expressions are used such as anger, bewilderment, contempt, determination, interest, happiness and sadness.
Of course, some things may have changed over the decades, but personally I believe it is the same. What do you think of this contrast between Japanese and Western television? We want to hear your comments at the end of the article.
If you want to know more about this study, look for the study by Koji Akiyama from Yamanashi University. You can find a PDF in English talking in detail about these features.
YouTube Channels with Japanese Commercials
There are channels on YouTube and some sites that are responsible for posting new videos and commercials on Japanese TV every week. Let's leave the link to the channels and some videos below: