This week’s Your Thoughts post comes from Steve, who notably writes at Selective Hearing!
I guess I’m generally really skeptical of any kind of major endorsement by these huge corporations like this or the recent MM thing. Not because I necessarily think it’ll change what they’re doing or bring down the “artistic integrity” so to speak, but I just feel it’s somewhat exploitative of these companies and almost kind of…shallow to approach these groups to try to capture some kind of new audience for their products, and there’s something especially weird when it comes to things like mobile phone service or cars, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.
I feel like maybe since phone carriers are technically a service and not an actual product you can see/touch/feel/taste (so marketing for these products just feels like nothing but “trust us, we’re great!” with no real backup or direct contact with potential customers) and for cars…they’re just kind of a luxury item for most people in Japan, which feels like…why would teenage idols help in you selling luxury items, especially when most wota are the poorest people out there after spending their money on all the idol goods?
I guess a general sense of “image” comes into play with these things, the idols’ history/notoriety notwithstanding, but the whole thing just feels weird. Random marketing stints for TV shows, new electronics, food items/restaurants, etc. doesn’t seem nearly as…misleading(?) as cars or non-tangible services. It’s hard to put together a lot of thoughts about this without actually discussing it with someone else, but I guess that’s what these posts are for. I’m interested to hear what you think about that.
I’m inclined to agree that it is a shady practice, but isn’t this the case with all celebrity endorsements, idol or no? I mean, this is a very common practice within advertising, idols or no. I mean, look at some of the high profile commercials. Do you think that Stephen Colbert really really loves pistachios and therefore went to them to make their commercial? Of course not, that would be silly. The people who market products look for something to increase their brand, and celebrity endorsements are one way to do that. I’m sure you understand this, but I just don’t see why idols endorsing something are much different.
As for cars… I mean, yes they are a luxury item. However, I heard something interesting recently. I was listening to a podcast (the OverthinkingIt Podcast) talking about Superbowl ads. They brought up the idea that car companies aren’t necessarily looking for you to buy a car of theirs NOW, but in the future; that these ads (especially the nebulous ones that aren’t really for a specific car) are trying to bring up brand awareness and getting you to associate this brand with a specific feeling/emotion. Since Toyota isn’t specifically selling a car with this deal, I”m thinking this is what they’re going for. They want AKB fans to associate the feelings of being an AKB fan with Toyota, so that when they’re ready to buy a car they have positive feelings about Toyota already in their head. It’s still a bit weird, but not as weird as “You like AKB? Then buy this car!”
Personally the idol ad that made me feel the weirdest was seeing that Morning Musume were featured on a recruitment poster for Japan’s Self-Defense Force (the closest thing Japan has to an army now post WWII). “In 2003, a Self-Defense Forces poster featured the all-women pop group Morning Musume in an effort to target high school students. The members of the group appear in their pop costumes and are crying out “Doing One’s Best Feels Good – Go! Go! Peace!” ” (Source)