Source: The Burning Ear
Last week I brought to you my story of watching some Japanese commercials as an experience to use for auto-ethnographic research. At the end of my blog I said I would do the one just commercial but for a more extensive account I will attempt to include all of the viewed advertisements. The change to include all of the advertisements came after I began research on the experience as certain elements or what became the epiphanies of the experience were realised. These realisations occurred after I had discovered certain information about both Japanese marketing and their culture. Also as you know auto-ethnography seeks to “systematically analyse personal experience” in order to understand “cultural experience” therefore discovering this while beginning the analysis makes sense (Ellis, et al. 2011). When you accompany this with the matter that auto-ethnographic researchers “selectively write about epiphanies” that are “made possible by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity” the inclusion of more than one advertisement was really the key to this being possible (Ellis, et al. 2011).
Initially I watched the advertisements with a little prior knowledge on Japanese marketing and held some beliefs about it that I thought were just. It was then pointed out to me that these beliefs may reflect what most people think about any other cultures advertisements around the world. This being the case coupled with both the experience I had and the research that I undertook my outlook on Japanese marketing has completely changed.
The first thing that I noticed when watching the advertisements was that in both of the first two there was a dog. One was talking and the other was dancing. At first I thought maybe this was a trend but didn’t think to much of it. I researched it anyway. What I found was incredible. Japan has a very strong love affair with dogs but this wasn’t always the case (Kingston, 2012). Before war time Japan there were extensive eradication of dogs projects and even after that the dog’s of the country were not pampered and loved like they are now. Dogs in Japan are almost a national symbol to its citizens now and this is most likely what the advertisements were reflecting. Although, maybe the advertisements are reflecting something deeper, maybe they are trying to make up for the nation’s past treatment of dogs? Maybe this is why their love affair with them occurred in the first place. My initial reaction of finding a flying and talking dog in Japanese commercials was that it was kind of weird. Although this reaction is one that has been shaped by my own culture. Now although Australians do love dogs I don’t think that they love them enough to include them in advertisements other than the ones for dog food and I guess toilet paper. In both of these they aren’t talking or flying. These preexisting perceptions of mine definitely affected my reaction but after learning what I have about dogs in Japan it makes a lot more sense they are being used to sell lots of different products.
The next aspect of the commercials that really stood out to me was the inclusion of Bruce Willis. This seemed odd to me; not because he doesn’t belong in advertisements but rather I didn’t know his status in Japan if any. But as Japan has adopted a lot of American customs this is another one that transcends culture. I discovered that Japanese marketing companies will pay $1-$3 million dollars for a few hours work (Zabanga, 2016) . Couple this with the matter that Bruce Willis’ latest movie was celebrated in Japan by an artist making a chocolate sculpture of Bruce and the endorsement makes much more sense. This identifies another epiphany where my own cultural perceptions shaped my experience. There was no reason for me to think that Bruce Willis wouldn’t be famous in Japan other than the fact I thought that they would have different celebrities to that of English speaking countries. This is therefore a clear example of my beliefs being wrong and another thing that this research has taught me.
Source: The Wrap
The final advertisement that I watched included kids performing tricks with everyday objects. In my first post I stated that I thought the advertisement would be about sport or some kind of talent show. I was very wrong with this assumption. The advertisement was in fact about noodles. This again displays a moment where my own cultural beliefs shaped my interpretation of what was happening. This is therefore another “epiphany” that I only noticed when reflecting on my own experience.
Source: Tokyo Girls Update
As “auto-ethnography is further informed by research on oral and personal narratives in performance and communication studies” these four epiphanies display a clear example of the research being conducted (Spry, 2001). They also display the benefits / importance of it as a research practice of it. Auto-ethnography can also be defined as “self-narrative that critiques the situatedness of self with others” (Spry, 2001). As this reflection on the experience allowed me to realise where my own cultural experience had shaped my personal experience it is clear that this quote is another one that rings true in terms of auto-ethnography and shaped the way that my study has unfolded.
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1
Gilman, G. (2013). Bruce Willis Immortalized with Chocolate ‘Die Hard’ Statue in Japan. TheWrap. Available at: http://www.thewrap.com/bruce-willis-immortalized-chocolate-die-hard-statue-japan-77766/ [Accessed 6 Sep. 2017].
Kingston, J. (2012). Japan: the history behind its love affair with dogs. The Japan Times. Available at: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2012/06/17/books/book-reviews/japan-the-history-behind-its-love-affair-with-dogs/#.WbM0FNMjH-Z [Accessed 6 Sep. 2017].
Schaefer, M. (2016). Five marketing and business lessons from Japan – Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses. Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses. Available at: https://www.businessesgrow.com/2013/06/02/five-marketing-and-business-lessons-from-japan/ [Accessed 6 Sep. 2017].
Spry, T. (2001). Performing Autoethnography: An Embodied Methodological Praxis. Qualitative Inquiry, 7(6), pp.706-732.
Zabanga.us. (2016). Celebrities Sell Out But Only in Japan – Marketing Communications. Available at: https://www.zabanga.us/marketing-communications/celebrities-sell-outbut-only-in-japan.html [Accessed 6 Sep. 2017].