Commercials: a lot of celebrities in the West won’t touch them with a borrowed pole. After working hard to build up their portfolio and making themselves a household name, for many professional actors the mere thought of putting their face on an advertisement is completely abhorrent.
In Japan, however, it’s a very different story. TV celebrities, singers and sports stars are a common feature on commercials, whether they be on television, magazines or even hanging over our heads as we take the train to work each morning. Watches, skin cream, beer, anti-hair loss, cars, language courses; you name it, someone famous is smiling and pretending they love it in exchange for a few extra yen.
This time it’s the turn of Hollywood heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio to take the cash and smile for the camera. Because, as we all know, DiCaprio never shuts up about how much he loves Jim Beam whiskey usually.
Here’s the villain of Quentin Tarantino’s latest flick "Django Unchained" in a Japanese commercial for Jim Beam Whiskey. Watch as the star attacks a ball of ice with conventional human tools before remembering that he’s from Hollywood and, like all famous actors, can make things explode with the power of thought.
The face of a foreign star on a Japanese commercial usually means that a company means business and is doing well – or at least wishes to be perceived in that way – and you’d better believe that the viewing public pays attention when a new one shows up. Needless to say, companies like Suntory are happy to splash the cash if means bagging a famous foreign face, so while they’d likely shy away from anything more than a couple of swanky perfume or wrist watch ads in their home country, a bevy western stars have put their names to products in Japan to date, perhaps hoping that no one back home would notice and ask, “Surely you’ve got enough cash already?” Bruce Willis, Charlize Theron, Ben Stiller, Tommy Lee Jones and Arnold Schwarzenegger are just a small handful of the big names who’ve done a little part-time work here in Japan.
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