Monthly Archives August 2020

Leading players in high demand for Japanese auto ads

Ever since I started reporting on Japan in the late 1980s, American actors have been the star of local auto ads.

It’s about getting a simple message across to an attentive audience in 15-second time slots, the standard length of Japanese TV commercials. First, by using renowned talent, the product is designed to be cool and attractive and the viewers will remember the product. And if the American actor can insert a few choice Japanese words to express the merits of this new car, so much the better for the adoring locals.

For example, when Michael J. Fox, just released from his 1985 hit film Back to the future Said “kakko Integra” meaning “beautiful Integra”, in a 1989 Honda Integra commercial, this phrase became so popular that it quickly turned into local pop culture. Then a few years later, Honda moved on to Brad Pitt to promote the Integra and blurted out “Integra Nottegra Honda”, which is a play on words but basically means “I drive a Honda Integra”.

Around the same time Fox was citing his lines for Honda in 1989, Kevin Costner was starring in the just launched first-generation Subaru Legacy commercial. Subaru must have gotten some major traction with the star of The Untouchables, because they followed over the next two decades with stars like Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Willis, Antonio Banderas and Winona Ryder promoting not only Legacy models but also Outback and Forester. Legendary British rocker Rod Stewart even had a fight to promote the Legacy.

Male stars are featured heavily in many Japanese car commercials, but as we saw with Lopez and Ryder riding for Subaru in the 90s, Thesilenceofthelambs star Jodie Foster appeared in a Honda Civic ad playfully saying “Ferio,” which was a version of the Japanese Civic.

Most recently, around 2013, Bruce Willis was back in Japan to film a commercial for a car, but this time he was uttering Japanese slogans for the Daihatsu Mira e: S (pronounced “ees”) micro-minivan. The star of the Die hard The franchise has reportedly agreed to a fee of over $ 1 million for an upcoming 3-day shoot in a pack of five short commercials for the tiny 660cc Mira ‘e: S’.

In a commercial, Willis asks the director if the Mira is selling well. The director replies, “Yes, Bruce, this is selling very well. In response, Willis turns to an assistant and says in Japanese, “The car is selling because of my star power, isn’t it?” To this, the director said wryly, “Ah, he still doesn’t understand that the car is the star.” These ads turned out to be as entertaining and witty as Men in black Star Tommy Lee Jones’ 2011 Suntory Boss Coffee commercial series, in which he plays a human-like alien trying to figure out human behavior.

Oddly enough, the last foreign talent to appear in an auto commercial was not an American actor but a French actor and star of Leon and Impossible mission, Jean Reno. He played a flying robotic cat called Doraemon in a series of Toyota commercials from 2012 to 2014 and uttered many strategic Japanese phrases like “Oikakeru? Take-copter-o ”, which means“ You want to chase them with my bamboo helicopter?

In the near future we may see someone from the Avengers Where Fast and furious appearing in a Toyota, Subaru or Honda advertisement. Or maybe an ageless Willis could return to star in a new Daihatsu commercial. That’s if the automaker can justify a seven-figure budget in these tough times.


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Japanese car flies with human inside

There are many flying car projects going on around the world, but it still seems like a distant dream for human civilization. However, we could be one step closer to actually making the dream come true. A Japanese company eventually built a car that not only managed to take off, but did so with a human sitting inside.

Japanese company SkyDrive Inc. performed a successful but modest test flight with one person sitting in the cabin of the car.

In one video, a craft that looked like a smooth motorcycle with propellers rose several feet (1-2 meters) from the ground and hovered in a netting area for four minutes.

Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who is leading the SkyDrive effort, said he hoped the “flying car” could become a real product by 2023, but recognized that it was essential to make it safe.

“Of more than 100 flying car projects around the world, only a handful have been successful with one person on board,” he told A.

“I hope a lot of people will want to drive it and feel safe.” So far, the machine can only fly five to 10 minutes, but if it can grow to 30 minutes, it will have more potential, including exports to countries like China, Fukuzawa said. .

The advantage of an eVTOL, or “electric vertical take-off and landing”, over airplanes and helicopters, is that they can in principle provide rapid personal point-to-point travel.

Battery size, air traffic control, and other infrastructure issues are among the many potential challenges in bringing them to market.

“A lot of things have to happen,” said Sanjiv Singh, a professor at the Institute of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, who co-founded Near Earth Autonomy near Pittsburgh, who is also working on an eVTOL aircraft.

“If they cost $ 10 million, no one will buy them. If they fly for 5 minutes, no one will buy them. If they fall from the sky every now and then, no one will buy them, ”Singh said in a telephone interview.

The SkyDrive project started as a volunteer project called Cartivator in 2012, with funding from large Japanese companies including automaker Toyota Motor Corp., electronics company Panasonic Corp. and video game developer Bandai Namco.

A demonstration flight three years ago went wrong. But it has improved, and the project recently received another round of funding, for 3.9 billion yen ($ 37 million), including from the Development Bank of Japan.

The Japanese government is optimistic about the ‘Jetsons’ vision, with a ‘roadmap’ for business services by 2023 and expanded commercial use by the 2030s, highlighting its potential to connect remote areas and provide lifesavers in the event of a disaster.

Experts compare the buzz around flying cars to the days when the aviation industry started with the Wright brothers and the auto industry with the Ford Model T.

Lilium from Germany, Joby Aviation in California and Wisk, a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Kitty Hawk Corp., are also working on eVTOL projects.

Sebastian Thrun, managing director of Kitty Hawk, said it took a while for planes, cellphones and self-driving cars to be accepted.

“But the time between technology and social adoption could be shorter for eVTOL vehicles,” he said.

With contributions from the Agencies

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