Cough Please: Japan Tobacco's 'Smoking Manners for Adults' Ads, Part 7
The success of Japan Tobacco's Smoking Manners for Adults campaign is debatable, though the Tokyo Subway authority's series of monthly Subway Manners posters proves imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. For JT, however, everything must come to an end - much like lit cigarettes - so let's enjoy ads 61 through 73!
61) "The trash was dumped in the bicycle basket. It was turned into a garbage basket"
A somewhat confusing ad that reminds smokers to use the surprisingly rare Japanese urban trash baskets instead of their bicycle's basket. I guess if it was other people's bike baskets I'd see their point but the distinction isn't made clear in the artwork. Besides, when have you ever seen a bike-riding smoker deposit a spent butt in their basket - the mobile butt flick is way more common.
62) "It only takes fingers to throw it away. It takes the whole body to clean it up"
This ad reminds me of "Watching The Detectives" by Elvis Costello... "It only took my little finger to blow you away". Elvis, if you're reading this, I suggest you have your agent contact Japan Tobacco right away. You just might be This Year's Model.
63) "Most of the things dropped around the plants weren't flower petals"
This is serious stuff in a country that reveres Cherry Blossom Viewing to the point where TV newscasters chart the annual progress of the cherry blossom "front" as it sweeps northward every spring. On the other hand, anyone surveying a park the morning after the average Hanami (cherry blossom viewing party) will see much more than flower petals carpeting the ground.
64) "Soaking in the rain, a cigarette butt grows, and grows"
Almost Haiku-esque, this ad is exquisite in its graphic and textual harmony. An additional cool feature is the way the upper border of the frame condenses into raindrops that fall upon the discarded cigarette butt. You almost WANT to see this process in action... er, wait a minute!
65) "Spring in Japan. Cigarette smoke joins the pollen assault"
Japanese sneeze, sniffle and generally suffer through each spring pollen season in recent years, thanks to the clouds of allergenic irritants blown from millions of Japanese Cedar trees planted in the post war years to provide lumber nobody wants today. Whew, gotta catch my breath... which isn't easy to do through a face mask that does nothing to stop cigarette smoke. Which is the point.
66) "As long as you don't look around your feet, the seas of Japan are beautiful"
"Seas of Japan", you say? I know a number of apoplectic Koreans who'd like a word or two with JT. But I digress... it seems one can't go to a Japanese beach these days without tripping over cigarette butts, beer & soft drink cans - and misplaced surfboards.
67) "I buried a cigarette butt in the beach. It was like burying something in a sandbox"
To some, the beach is the world's biggest ashtray. Naturally this causes problems for innocent children and crabs, both of whom are shown reacting in shock to the discovery of some inconsiderate lout's nicotinic leavings. I'd quit digging there, kid (and crab), you don't want to know WHY the smoker picked that particular spot for a smoke break...
68) "People who know that picking up cigarette butts is sweaty work don't litter with cigarette butts"
Where are these cigarette butt removal jobs of which you speak? If it involves riding around in one of those neat-o vacuum cleaner golf carts, then I'd imagine sweat would be in short supply. Of course, that may not apply to the gigantic 3-ft long cigarette butts found in Japan.
69) "Smoking at a crowd at a festival. It's a festival of fire among the watchers"
Japan is famous for its many festivals featuring large groups of chanting people carrying massive portable shrines down the avenue. The graphics on this ad seem to show the first ever (to my knowledge) festival disaster in which a carelessly tossed lit cigarette butt has ignited the portable shrine, causing widespread panic. Or amusement, if the incident took place at the infamous Kanamara Penis Festival. Hot dog!
70) "Sometimes people stub out their cigarettes on a wall. Are they trying to write a message?"
Don't try this in Jerusalem, folks, the locals are picky about that sort of thing. Anyway, this ad depicts our usual suspect jotting out something in Marlboro Code while a non-judgmental dog and bird look on impassively. Which of them smiles inwardly? What good would it do you to know? It doesn't matter. Don't you understand? Nothing matters! *
71) "A cigarette butt tossed away on dead leaves on the pavement. That's all you need to start a bonfire"
Really, that's all you need? Do Shell, Exxon and Chevron know about this? Let's hope not, because I think Japan just solved the energy crisis: just combine a renewable resource (leaves) with a ready source of combustion (butts). It's the best thing to happen since cave men put the two together and thereby discovered personal hygiene.
72) "My lit cigarette always points toward others, never toward myself"
Well, um, yes... that's how the whole smoking thing works, after all. Don't believe me, try smoking with the lit end toward your face. Plus, however way you've managed to inhale the smoke, you always exhale outwards... that's what the "ex" in exhale signifies. This might be another case in which Japanese cigarettes work differently than others - the ad shows a fellow pedestrian surrendering to the smoker's immense blast of "fire". Great, we get lung cancer; Japanese get turned into dragons. Not cool, man, not cool.
The 73rd and final ad isn't an ad at all; rather, it's an online teaser that invites browsers to come check out the Japan Tobacco website. It also mentions a Smoking Manners For Adults screensaver that features horizontal scrolling action starring many of the characters that appeared in the preceding 72 graphic ads. I really, REALLY want this screensaver; in fact, I crave it. Damn you Japan Tobacco!!
* fave quote c/o Fredric Brown, "Come And Go Mad"
J A P A N O R A M A