Japan is putting aside materialism for Sendai

23 Mar

Do you know the “Ad Council“?

The Ad Council (of America)

If you’re not American, you probably don’t. Even if you are American, you may know their TV ads but not recognize the name.

The Ad Council puts public service commercials on TV. Not trying to sell anything…just addressing a problem in society.

When I lived in America, their most well-known commercials were probably the “Crash Test Dummies” that were used to try to convince people to fasten their seat-belts when they were in a car and anti-drunk driving ads with the catch-phrase “Drinking and driving can kill a friendship“.

The American Ad Council “Crash Test Dummies” seat-belt ad:

The American Ad Council “Drinking and driving can kill a friendship” ad (you can tell it’s from the ’80s…Michael Jackson’s music was playing in the background:

The Ad Council is in Japan as well.
Here it’s called 「社団法人ACジャパン」 (“AC (Ad Council) Japan Association“).

AC Japan logo

The ads by AC Japan are quite different from America’s Ad Council commercials. Rather than car safety the ads here mainly focus on manners.

If you’re in Japan now and you watch Japanese TV you’ve surely noticed that ever since the 2011 March 11 earthquake the commercials on TV here have been almost exclusively AC Japan ads.

This is because it would considered poor taste and a bit rude to show commercials for beer, fast-food, cars, or other materialistic goods when so many people in 東北地方 (the Tohoku Region) have lost so much and are in need of basic necessities.

So, to fill the time spaces in pre-recorded TV shows that are normally for commercial ads…all of the TV stations in Japan put messages from AC Japan in their place.

The ads extol the virtues of reading, recycling, and being polite.

Here’s one that I occasionally saw on TV a couple of years ago but since March 11th, I’ve seen it countless times. It has a good message though…my translation of it would be something like: “No one can see your heart, but everyone can see how you use your heart. No one can see your thoughts, but everyone can see your compassion.”

They also have one titled 「魔法の言葉で」 (“The Magic Words”).

Not easy to explain, but this ad has characters named after some basic Japanese “magic words” of basic manners. The names are a play on words in Japanese…but when translated into English, the word-pun is lost.

"Arigatousagi" ("Thank you Bunny")

"Itadakimausu" (The "Let's Eat" Mouse)

"Gochisousamausu" (The "Thank you for the meal" Mouse)

"Ittekimasukanku" ("I'm Leaving Skunk")

"Konbanwani" ("Good evening Gator")

"Konnichiwan" ("Good Afternoon Doggy")

"Ohayounagi" ("Good morning Eel")

"Oyasuminasai" ("Good night Rhino")

"Sayonaraion" ("Farewell Lion")

"Tadaimanbou" ("I'm Home Sunfish")

See? The names are cute play on words in Japanese…but kinda odd in English.
But you might enjoy the TV ad anyways:

Besides these TV ads in place of regular commercials, other noticeable differences in Tokyo since the disaster of March 11th are shops opening later and closing earlier everyday…and using only the bare minimum of lighting necessary. All shops and places of business are doing it.

This is to conserve electricity since the nuclear power plant disaster. It’s a bit surreal to see the usually well-lit and neon Tokyo nights so dark these days.

Also, the trains in Japan usually have poster ads on the walls and hanging from the ceiling…but, for the same reason as the eliminated TV ads, these days the trains have very few poster ads.

But soon, I’m confident, Japan will be back to normal.

(By the way, if you want to see my post about Japanese train and subway “manner posters”…click here and here.)

6 Responses to “Japan is putting aside materialism for Sendai”

  1. Mom March 25, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    there is a lot to thing about here. more than on just a firsts glance…but it is an important subject which unfortunately is neglected in many places in our world. too bad, for our children esp., because having good manners can have unbelievablely good consequences that are too often not even considered when we are raising our children. I believe that if we did take the time to consider the effect and/or consequences of having good manners we would be blown away. way back when..I was young…my mother insisted on politness manners, on saying thank you, etc. of course, like any kid my age, I thought she was just being a pain but the older I get (and I won’t say any more on that subject) the more clearly I see the wisdom of what she was teaching me. I hope that my own children have benefited from some of her lessons, and from most of the things I read here and other things I hear, I think they have. This is such a wonderful website for many reasons but esp. because I appreciate the ways that you take an ordinary news story and allow for discussion from all over the world thereby opening up such a broad dialogue that everyone with an open mind and heart can benefit from.


    • tokyo5 March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

      >my mother insisted on politness

      It’s important. An, as you said, often neglected.


  2. gigihawaii March 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    Very interesting that they temper their ads because of the disaster/catastrophe.


    • tokyo5 March 24, 2011 at 12:13 am #

      Right after the disaster all TV commercials were replaced with the AC Japan public service ads on every channel.

      Still today, almost every ad is an AC Japan one. But occasionally they’ll show a “regular” commercial…but so far only those shown are for “essential items” such as eyeglasses, etc.


  3. metalodyssey March 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    A very unique country when it comes to manners I might say… and I truly admire it all. I always felt that Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki (among many other Japanese Major League Baseball players) had/have exceptional manners on the ball field. I never saw Hideki Matsui ever charge a baseball mound or go nuts just because a pitch was thrown at him too close.

    I was taught at a young age: “good manners goes a long way”… it’s too bad this wasn’t taught all over the planet.


    • tokyo5 March 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

      >…good manners…too bad this wasn’t taught all over the planet.

      Yeah…the world would be a better place if everyone used proper manners.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: