Staff Reporters
Dec 11, 2015

Best of 2015: Top 5 weirdest ads from Japan

Japan is famed for its unique perspective. Sometimes, odd equals genius. Other times, it just equals odd. Here we present an assortment of work at both ends of the spectrum, all of which deserves recognition for sheer originality.

Best of 2015: Top 5 weirdest ads from Japan

As 2015 nears its end, Campaign Asia-Pacific is reviewing the year by featuring one best-of (or worst-of) list each day. We've got 12 days' worth of the biggest PR disastersdealspitches, launches and people moves; the best and not-best campaigns; and the oddest stories and quotes we've heard. Click here for all our year-in-review features from not only 2015 but also past years.

Japan is frequently the source of cultural phenomena that are puzzling to outsiders, but for some reason the country outdid itself with strange ads in 2015so much so that we had to give quirky Japan ads a category of their own. One of the ads below is patently offensive, but a couple of the others are acclaimed—if not by the world in general then at least by us. But in the end this list isn't about 'good' or 'bad': It's about weird. 

‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Panty Promo’

Topping the list for strangeness (and political incorrectness) is a piece of work by an agency called Dot by Dot for a Tokyo-based music TV channel, Space Shower TV. When it was first sent to us, we suspected it might be a spoof, but unfortunately not: at its heart is an app that invites you to tap in time to the rhythm of a song and, if rhythmical, be rewarded with an up-skirt panty shot. We shall say no more about it.

Our original coverage: 'Rock 'n' Roll Panty' promo is a real thing, unfortunately


Healthy horror: DoCoMo Healthcare's 'Calorie Movie' 

NTT is a conservative company, but we applaud its willingness to experiment for the DoCoMo brand. This film by Tokyu Agency and AOI Pro follows on from the highly successful three-second cooking videos and explores the hypothesis that fear induced by watching horror films helps burn calories. To promote a health band, this creepy film shows the average calorie consumption of an audience of 12 test subjects while watching it. We liked that the brand played almost no part in it, only making an appearance at the end to say that calories are consumed at unexpected moments.

Our original coverage: Docomo Healthcare shows a dose of horror can be good for you


Saga City's 'alien fish'

This is one of our favourite campaigns of the year, but also undeniably strange. Tourism campaigns are typically unexciting affairs, all eventually merging into one with images of scenery and food. Geometry Global sought to put Saga City on a different level by creating a story around the warasubo, a bizarre sea creature that lives in the area. A B-movie style film has the inhabitants of Saga, including the mayor, unravelling the mystery of the ‘alien fish’. We salute the tourism board for acknowledging that it’s good to be different, especially where destinations are concerned.

Our original coverage: Saga City deploys alien fish to lure tourists


Hello Kitty's 'uneasy itch'

We admit that we struggle to see the appeal of the ubiquitous pink Kitty, but this piece from Hakuhodo/Hakuhodo Kettle certainly caught our attention. The cat-like creature joined Dempagumi, a pop group from Akihabara with a big otaku following, to promote an anti-itch cream, Pocket Muhi. Masterfully, the song managed to combine the concept of unrequited love with mosquito bites. Uneasiness and frustration are common factors in both, you see. Sadly, the video seems to be no longer available.

Our original coverage: Hello Kitty joins Dempagumi for uneasy itch remedy promo


Quiksilver's surfing salarymen

Eventually winning a Gold Lion at Cannes, this campaign stands out for its inventiveness and playfulness. The idea of wetsuits that double as business attire is hard to resist, but upon first watching the video, we assumed it was just a whimsical story. The fact that the products are actually available to buy gives the work another dimension. Of course, the market might be limited, but it’s certainly a great way to demonstrate the quick-drying qualities of the company’s more conventional products.

Our original coverage: Sleek suits for surfing salarymen


See all year-in-review features


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