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Another Thai Commercial

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Click to listen”]

I’m afraid this entry is going to be quite a short one because I have another busy week coming up.

As you know, my house is being built at the moment, so I have to go there every day to discuss the progress with the builder. At this point, there are usually one or two big decisions that have to be made every time, which is really stressful because I know that if I get them wrong, I will regret it for the rest of my life!

This week’s topic is another Thai commercial. When I saw it, I thought it was extremely powerful. Japanese commercials tend to be very bland and predictable, so it’s really interesting to see commercials that have so much thought behind them.

Anyway, as before, please let me know what you think about both the topic and the commercial. (A useful exercise for English learners would also be describing the video to someone who hasn’t seen it. It would be interesting to see what different approaches people take to that.)

このブログは英語学習者のためのものです。レベルの高い人もいれば、初心者もいますので、自分のレベルや学習経験を気にする必要はありません。「いつもコメントを書いている人は仲間みたいだから参加しにくい」と思う方もいるかもしれませんが、勇気を出してコメントを書いてみてください。必ず温かく迎えてもらえます。多くのコメントは英語で書かれていますが、もちろん日本語もOKですし、英語と日本語を混ぜて書いても大丈夫です。言いたいことが言えないときは、How do you say 「〜」in English? と聞けば、きっとだれかが教えてくれると思います。私のエントリー、または他のメンバーのコメントの中に分からないところがあったら、「”…”はどういう意味ですか?」と遠慮なく聞いてください。このブログで使われているフレーズや表現をたくさん吸収すると、より自然な英語に近づけることができますよ!

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  1. ashmoleanmuse on Wednesday October 2nd, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Hi David,

    Can we call it commercial? The sponsor of the video is Thai Health Promotion Foundation which doesn’t sell products. The footage is one of its health promoting activities, right?

    I thought that the adults would give kids a lecture on harms of smoking. Bingo! They did. So it was predictable to me.


  2. Biwa on Wednesday October 2nd, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Hi Ash,

    >So it was predictable to me.

    Same here!

    Hi everyone,

    I wonder if you remember one of the commercials of JT(Japan Tobacco Inc.) which was aired a while ago. I forgot the details, but the main message was that a lit cigarette in a smoker’s hand was just at the height of a child’s face. Of course, the commercial didn’t mention the harm of smoking at all because they are cigarette-sellers(!), but the message was exactly what I had always wanted to say. It’s none of my business whether smokers smoke, but it really makes me angry when they smoke where they shouldn’t. I guess that’s why I still remember the commercial.

  3. David on Wednesday October 2nd, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    Hi ashmoleanmuse,

    Thanks for your comment. Actually, I wasn’t sure whether to use the word “commercial” or not when I wrote the entry. When I was young, these type of short films used to be called “public service announcements,” but I think people now refer to anything that is not a programme but is on the TV as a “commercial.” The dictionary just says that a commercial is “an advertisement on TV or radio.” I suppose that strictly speaking, it shouldn’t be called a commercial because it is not promoting any products, but I think that in modern English, a lot of people would call it a commercial anyway.

    As for the film itself, I must admit that when I watched it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought the adults would just laugh at the kids or given them a light. Anyway, Japan is so pro-smoking that it is nice to see clever anti-smoking messages like this, especially in Asia.

  4. YU on Wednesday October 2nd, 2013 at 03:22 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    I remember the commercial you mentioned, too.

    Hi David and everyone,

    > Japanese commercials tend to be very bland and predictable,

    Are they? I don’t really think so.
    It’s true that there are always both thought-provoking commercials like this one and absolutely rubbish ones in Japanese commercial world, but I think that is the case in the rest of the world, too.

    I hate to say this, but you’d find them interesting, too, if you really understood Japanese culture. By the way, I seldom find foregin commercials as interesting as they are praised in the countries of origin.

    > Anyway, Japan is so pro-smoking that it is nice to see clever anti-smoking messages like this, especially in Asia.

    I totally agree with you.
    It reminded me of the very shocking news from Indonesia. In the video a 2-year-old boy is smoking and no adults around him aren’t stopping him!

  5. David on Wednesday October 2nd, 2013 at 03:48 PM

    Hi YU,

    I’m sure that my lack of understanding of Japanese culture is part of the problem, but don’t you think that advertisers tend to be very conservative here? For example, has anyone ever made a beer commercial that doesn’t involve some fit young men doing something very active, drinking the beer, and then turning to the camera and saying “Umai!”

    Actually, I shouldn’t really talk about this because I never watch Japanese TV at home. The only time I see it is when it’s on in the gym or in a restaurant. It’s just my impression that commercials tend to be very “safe” and predictable. Can you give me an example of an interesting one that I can watch on You Tube?

  6. ashmoleanmuse on Wednesday October 2nd, 2013 at 04:48 PM

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the quick reply!

    When I was young, these type of short films used to be called “public service announcements,”

    I remember it was really annoying to see the never ending public service announcements by AC Japan after the devastating Tohoku Earthquake. “こだまでしょうか?”, ”ポポポポ~ン”and “エイシ~” became an earworm for lots of people.

    Anyway, Japan is so pro-smoking that it is nice to see clever anti-smoking messages like this, especially in Asia

    An annual survey in 2012 by JT said smoking rate had fallen to 21.1 percent, hitting a record low for the 17th straight year.

    Can you give me an example of an interesting one that I can watch on You Tube?


  7. YU on Wednesday October 2nd, 2013 at 04:53 PM

    Hi David,

    > don’t you think that advertisers tend to be very conservative here?

    You mean, Japanese commercials are tend to be made in the same way? ワンパターン?
    I don’t really feel so, but rather I always enjoy the original ideas, but this is just my personal opinion.

    > For example, has anyone ever made a beer commercial that doesn’t involve some fit young men doing something very active, drinking the beer, and then turning to the camera and saying “Umai!”

    You’ve told us this story before, but I don’t think all the beer commercials in Japan today are like you mentioned. They are making progress 1mm by 1mm(1ミリずつ) at least! hahaha…
    In my opinion, TV commercials are made to be seen by only(or mainly?) people of the country where they were made, so why they have to be made as people from other countries please? It’s enough only if most people in the coutry like them, isn’t it? Of course, you can criticize our commercials and vice versa, though.

    > Can you give me an example of an interesting one that I can watch on You Tube?

    I can’t think of that right away, but how about this commercial?

    I don’t know if you find it interesting, but I heard that Walkman came to be well known among the people and sold well because of this CM.

    I think the JT’s commercial Biwa mentioned was very excellent, too, but I can’t find the video, sorry. Anyway, it caused a lot of fuss among both smokers and non-smokers when it was aired.

  8. Fumie on Thursday October 3rd, 2013 at 06:01 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    We had been busy when our house was being built and we often meet with the builder and discuss the matters. Though I liked those things because we can choose our favorite colors, materials or types of several parts of the house. At those times, I read a lot of interior magazines and sometimes I asked the builder to install the similar ones as those on the magazine’s.

    As for the topic, seeing children asking adults cigarette is shocking. I heard even some elementary student smoke some times. Today’s children must be under a lot of stress but they should get rid of their stress by playing sport. I guess they are fully informed about how harmful cigarettes are.

    Maybe I’m selfish to say this but I have an aversion to cigarettes so when I see people smoke, I often walk away. I can’t believe some people smoke in front of children. According to the survey, certain number people will be killed by secondhand smoke.

    > Japanese commercials tend to be very bland and predictable,

    As other members said, I think some of Japanese commercials are like that but some are creative and funny.

    Have a nice day, everyone!

  9. Anne on Thursday October 3rd, 2013 at 01:04 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    One of the big problems concerning smoking is second -hand smoke. Adults should care about this, and whether or not the concept of this ad is predictable, I think this is a good message to encourage people to stop smoking.

    By the way, I happened to find a website that compares anti-smoking campaign in various countries. It is interesting to compare how different countries try to educate people or let people know of the dangers of smoking.

    If you are interested in it, have a look!

    Different countries, different cultures, right?

    When I was working for a health check company, our boss of the company was dedicated to anti-smoking campaign. It was more than ten years ago, and I think it was not accepted that much those days. I remember I read and translated an article in some journal related to Nicotine replacement therapy.

  10. David on Thursday October 3rd, 2013 at 01:34 PM

    Hi YU and Ash,

    Thanks for the links. You have convinced me! They are both great commercials. I particularly like the xylophone one.

    As for the beer commercials, I think I just get annoyed by the laziness of using the same old formula every time. I suppose the reason it bothers me so much is that it reflects the way of thinking that is causing so much damage in Japan: Play it safe; Don’t take risks; Do it the same way we’ve always done it. I know that there is a huge amount of creative genius in this country, but it seems like all the creativity and new ideas are squashed by the national aversion to risk.

    I think I mentioned this before as well, but I used to have a friend who was a TV producer in Tokyo. I asked her why Japanese TV shows are all the same, and she said it’s because you can’t make a TV show without sponsors, and the sponsors never want to take any risks. They want known “talents” and accepted formats for every program. This means, she said, that even when producers and directors have creative new ideas, they are killed immediately because they are seen as too risky.

    I have chosen to make Japan my home for life, and I really think it could be a great country if people were not so terrified of taking risks and making changes. Every time I see a beer commercial, it reminds me of that frustration.

    Anyway, thanks for showing me those great commercials.

  11. David on Thursday October 3rd, 2013 at 01:35 PM

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for the link. I haven’t got time to watch all those videos now, but I’ll check them out later.

  12. ashmoleanmuse on Thursday October 3rd, 2013 at 03:09 PM

    Hi Anne,

    The first footage cracked me up! Not only the caption “Smoking shortens penis” but the scene when the cigarette ash drops. That’s exactly what one would expect of UK commercials. I mean some UK films such as Game of Thrones have explicit scenes. Having said that, I think this is the most effective anti-smoking campaign targeting men. Oh, and if it were Japanese advert, the caption would be “Smoking shortens male fertility”.


  13. YU on Thursday October 3rd, 2013 at 04:58 PM

    Hi Anne,

    Thank you for the interesting link!

    Hi David and everyone,

    Watching some videos Anne showed us, I felt commercials in the west are much more direct and made based on reality.
    As Ash mentioned, these “commercials” are a bit different from usual ones which are made only to promote sales, so I think direct, even shocking contents are more suitable.
    However, I wonder if all Japanese people are always seeking direct descriptions or changes for TV shows and commercials, it might be true that people who are working in the creative world like David’s friend want to try their creative new ideas, though.
    As you know, more and more younger generations are stop watching TV and the main audiences today are older generations who are said to be conservative.
    I think one of the reasons why advertisers don’t want to take any risks is that they know that TV audiences in Japan are getting more and more conservative because of the reasons mentioned above and they tend to hate sudden changes or extreme descriptions. I don’t think the major reasons why people are less interested in TV is that TV shows have got boring, but it is that many other kinds of entertainment replacing TV have been born one after another in recent years, so even if TV started showing creative new things now, I don’t really think it would be as popular as it used to be any more.

    I don’t think always refusing changes is a good thing, either, but do TV shows and commercials really need to change just because TV producers or advertisers want to try their abilities(skills)? Do the general public really want it?

    As you know, I like watching TV very much, but if Japanese TV shows and commercials became like western ones, I’m not really sure if I would keep watching them. This is what I wanted to say with “you’d find them interesting, too, if you really understood Japanese culture.”

  14. amo on Friday October 4th, 2013 at 08:31 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I was going to write a comment last night, but I was too tired to do so. I felt sleepy after having dinner so I went to bed early than usual.
    Sorry, I haven’t finished reading all of your comments. As I said before, I don’t pay attention to TV commercials but I still remember some phrases of old commercials. One of them is 人間やめまさすか?覚醒剤やめますか?As I was a child, I never thought I would want to try drugs (lol)

    Oh, I got to run, bye for now.

  15. Yuki on Friday October 4th, 2013 at 09:06 AM


    Thank you for your reply, I tried to reply to you, but suddenly comment field was disappeared! And then, I realized that comment field will be gone after some period. Anyway, I think it’s first time to talk to you. Yes, it has been 5 years since I moved from Japan, but I will back to Japan in 2 or 3 years, hopefully.
    Since I wasn’t in Japan for 5 years, I don’t know what’s changed in my company in Japan even other company. So even this topic, it is very hard to imagine how many peoples are still smoking in Japan. But I can say that most of my friends already quit now. Why smoke? Why smoke? People mind can be changed.


  16. Biwa on Friday October 4th, 2013 at 09:29 AM

    Hi Yuki,

    I’m not really sure why your comment disappeared, but I just thought that you might have forgotten to update the ‘capcha code’ when you posted your comment. I used to do the same thing when I first joined here. You can update it by clicking the little circle right next to the 4-letter code.

  17. Biwa on Friday October 4th, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for the link. It’s really interesting to see how different they are from the Japanese ones. They made me think that it might be a good idea to have people from other countries to make some commercials for us. Not only anti-smoking commercials but also, say, commercials for preventing ‘Ore-ore-sagi.’ As YU said, if the main audience is older people, it might be effective to air those on TV, and also, it might be a lot more effective if they were more direct with a Western point of view.

  18. YU on Friday October 4th, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Hi David,

    You haven’t closed your last entry yet.

    Hi Yuki,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I know what you mean very well.
    I lived in Germany from 1999 to 2004, and when I returned to Japan, I felt as if a long time has passed(浦島太郎状態)! Even now, when I watch quizz shows on TV, I can’t really answer questions about the 5 years correctly. I even don’t really know what songs popular were, either.
    I’m sure you’d get counter culture shock when you are back in the future.

    > Why smoke? Why smoke?

    I guess most people start smoking partly for fun, but most of them fall into the trap finally.
    First of all, I wonder why a product like cigerettes which has nothing but harm can be legally sold in this world, though. Is it because otherwise people might have their hands on more harmful drugs to pursue pleasure?!

    As Biwa said, it’s not my business whether or not other people smoke, but they shouldn’t take along with other people(=secondhand smoke).
    I think it’s very unfair that smokers and non-smokers pay exactly the same premium for the governmental health insurance. Actually, a higher health insurance premium should be set for smokers like private insurance companies do because they often get sick easier than non-smokers.
shemale lesbian.