Japanese Commercials vs American Commercials

Japanese Commercials vs. American Commercials

Japan and the United States, two of the largest markets of the world, “lead the world in TV advertising expenditures, jointly sharing 70 percent of that market” (Hooper qtd. by Lin 40). The markets of the countries share many common traits, but they differ in three major aspects. First, Japanese commercials’ main marketing strategy is soft sell, while the main strategy of American commercials’ is hard sell; second, Japanese commercials use celebrities very often, while US commercials do not; third, Japanese commercials use many gimmicks when advertising their products, while US commercials are much more straightforward in their ways of advertisement. These discrepancies between Japanese and American commercials can ultimately be explained by cultural differences; the Japanese culture is a high-context culture, while the American culture is a low-context culture.
The main marketing strategy of Japanese commercials is ‘soft-sell’ – a strategy in which a commercial “appeals to emotion, family, [and] your place in society” (McCulloch 5). Japanese commercials focus much more on the surroundings of the product being advertised than on the product itself. The main objective of Japanese commercials is not to persuade, but to communicate “the feeling of the product’s allure and familiarity” (5). An example of ‘soft-sell’ would be a commercial for a hot drink that has been on TV during the last couple days. It shows a businesswoman drinking a hot drink, putting the drink down with a satisfied smile, and joining a random group of people who are dancing in a train station. Next, she starts to lead the group into choreographed movements. Throughout the whole commercial, not a single fact about the product, such as what vitamins or nutrients are in the drink, or how much it costs, was provided. Instead, the entirety of the commercial was only filled with the happy emotion that is supposedly associated with the hot drink. On the...