Until now, after stumbled upon hundreds of TV Commercial (TVC), I’m still impressed with “Globalization”, a TVC made by Dentsu Alpha for Japanese instant-noodle-maker Nissin. It was a part of a campaign named “SURVIVE”, which brought home an AdFest Grand Lotus award.
“Globalization” opened with an ominous tone where the “office Samurai” (or samurai in ties) received a devastated news: their organization would adopt English as the new official language. Apparently, this brought a huge nervous to everyone as their English skill was quite terrible and one of the generals admitted that his Japanese is not even that proficient. Facing the new foreign boss, the office samurai were blown away by his “native” pronunciation (blown away literally). While their efforts to communicate failed miserably, some Samurai actually made it through the front line with with their “level 3 EIKEN” (Japanese version of IELTS). The TVC ended with the copy “You cannot fight a war with an empty stomach”.
While “Globalization” is stunning with all the battle scenes, the smart metaphors and the obvious joke on Japanese’s English proficiency, what really makes it beautiful is the way it delivers the message: The Samurai.
Samurai plays a very crucial role in Japanese history, especially in pre-Meiji era. During this period, Japan received many interest from several Western colonial nations and witnessed a rapid-changing economy, trade and culture. But not the Samurai. Samurai were highly-trained warriors lived for a sole purpose of serving their master, the Lords. And Samurai were the first ones ever that stood for “the old way”, claiming that Japan culture should have been preserved and protected. Loyal, brave, and honorable, Samurai represented the best traits of Japanese culture. That’s why Tom Cruise decided to stay and fight with those armored warriors. Honor and loyalty.
Why did Nissin choose Samurai as the mean to deliver its message? Because history is repeating itself. Globalization has brought countless opportunities to Japanese companies. While their cultural traits have taken them far outside of physical boundaries, it’s also their biggest blind spot. Patriotism prevents the Japanese from admitting the importance of English in their business. Many Japanese employees prefer to work the extra hours to impress their bosses instead of proving they can work globally. And eventually, they must face the most difficult choice: Staying with tradition or Accepting the changes.
It’s this strong resemblance with the Samurai era that helped “Globalization” connect with its target audiences. Who will use cup noodles? Literally everyone. And what do they share in common? Patriotism. Patriotism is something any people can be proud of. And trust me, the Japanese know it best. They don’t go extreme like the fellas in America with their freedom eagle but be very preservative on the cultural side. However, Nissin’s “Globalization” pulled a disturbing matter out of Japanese patriotism: Where does Japan actually stand in this borderless era? That’s where the Samurai come in.
No Japanese preserved their culture and tradition more bold, more courageous and more honorable than the Samurai. They literally died defending it. But in the end, Japan still progressed along with the world when Meiji claimed the role Empire of Japan. And Japan took off since that point. What does it tell you? Globalization is inevitable, and what really matters is how you can make the most out of it. Be preservative and be adaptive at the same time. Because patriotism means doing what’s best for our nation, not for ourselves.
In conclusion, Nissin successfully reached to the heart of their target audiences through the warriors of culture with stunning visual and smart humors and. “Globalization”, and “SURVIVE” campaign as a whole, helped Nissin more and more close to be a part of Japanese culture. So good job Akira Nagai!