Two Ads I Like and One I Don’t – Yasushi Ogata

Yasushi Ogata is Vice President & Executive Creative Director at Grey Japan.

Which ads you like or don’t like might well be something only people working in advertising are interested in. However, it is probably true that ads must actually be well crafted and interesting to get a positive response from consumers and to leave both a good and long-lasting impression.

Two I Like

Eishinkan: Walking man

The first ad I’d like to share is “Walking Man” from Eishinkan, a cram school chain in regional cities across southern Japan. I love this ad for having a unique idea, unlike typical Japanese ads. (Turn on subtitles)

Like other countries, education carries a lot of weight in Japan. Despite the declining birthrate, the examination process is more intense than ever and most cram schools have a rigorous academic focus. However, the motto of this cram school is “the more you enjoy the cram school, the better grades you get” and they created this fun TVC that “depicts a math problem in live action.”

Many math word problems that Japanese students tackle are purely hypothetical in nature, with unrealistic settings that make you wonder if there is any point in solving them. Pushing off from this reality, they created an ad with a cynical idea that makes one smile. Because this is an ad by a cram school, Japanese kids who don’t usually watch TV (and of course TVCs) gave a positive reaction on Twitter, which surprised me. It proves that TVCs are still effective with young people as long as they are interesting and something they can perhaps relate to.

Burger King: Bullying Jr.

Next, I’d like to share my other favorite ad but this one is from overseas -Burger King ‘s campaign titled “Bullying Jr.”  I think the person who came up with this idea is very smart.

There are a lot of anti-bullying ads and most of them are intended to make us sad. However, despite the serious situation, this ad employs humor in a very clever way that makes it stand out and keeps the viewer interested. It shows adults who turn a blind eye to a kid being bullied but who complain strongly about their ‘bullied’ burgers. It gives us a sobering lesson.

I think it’s effective in making at least some people who may encounter a similar issue to take an inward look at themselves and seriously think about how they would or should react when faced with these issues too. Watching the ad makes you wonder how you would want to handle the situation. Food for thought.

What I Don’t Like – the Overuse of Celebrities

Instead of an ad I am not crazy about, I would venture to say there are ads that are uniquely Japanese and so sometimes not always understood globally.

There are many well-made Japanese style campaigns which feature someone famous, but I personally don’t gravitate towards TVCs focused just around a celebrity. Though this is not true for all TVCs featuring celebrities, in Japan, the use of a celebrity itself is the winning idea for many of these ads.

This is due to the unique media environment in Japan where most of the TVCs are only 15 seconds long, and so consumers are often left with impressions of celebrities where it’s a “TVC featuring that popular model,” “that popular celebrity was saying something nice,” or “I love the TVC featuring him/her! But what was it about?”

It is hard to create a TVC with humor or a twist that provokes consumers to think deeply in just 15 seconds. That’s why these ads talk as much as possible about the product name and benefits in a very short period of time, featuring a famous personality.

Ads abroad, however, also show famous sportsmen or film stars, but this is usually accompanied in a storyline and it often includes humor — think George Clooney and the Nespresso ad or Nadal vs Ronaldo and the difference is probably because these ads tend to be longer in length.

A version of this was originally published in June 2018.

Yasushi Ogata
Yasushi Ogata
Yasushi Ogata is VP and Executive Creative Director at Grey Japan

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