Japan Tobacco ad execs sweated, strained and no doubt chain-smoked a whole lot of their main product while brainstorming up 73 "Smoking Manners for Adults" ads. Numbers 41 through 50 are presented here in hopes that rude smokers will smarten up and get their ashes in order.
Advertising in Japan doesn't always follow the norms we in our respective foreign countries expect. The messages are sometimes overstated; other times so subtle we miss the point completely.
Both extremes can be found in the "Smoking Manners for Adults" ads, and analyzing them reveals much about the ways both Japanese smokers and non-smokers think about themselves.
41) "In the winter, my pockets are stuffed with portable ashtrays."
Don't you just hate that? Plus, the extra pounds can weigh you down just when you need to be light on your feet, such as running to catch the last train of the evening or falling drunken into a drainage canal. One would suppose the alternative is to toss the portable ashtrays when they're full, or just flick your butts willy-nilly... but that would be un-mannerly, and that's not the point of this particular ad. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to look for the point of this particular ad.
42) "Leave money, not cigarette butts, at tourist spots."
A fine idea indeed, since Japan has a deserved reputation for being an expensive travel destination. I believe the government should get behind this campaign immediately, providing extra coins to citizens as part of a wide-ranging economic stimulus package. Change we can believe in... yet I'm confused: why is the surprised onlooker in the ad labeled a "local"? Also, if the ad is equating tossed cigarette butts with 100-yen coins (about $1), does that mean cigarettes have value AFTER they're smoked?
43) "Although I smoke, I hate other people's smoke"
True enough, the smoke is always stinkier on the other side but aren't smokers pretty much immune to the smell of burning tobacco, smoke-filled rooms, dirty ashtrays and the aura of stale tobacco smoke that envelopes them and their co-puffers? If only there were some way to enjoy tobacco without creating smoke... yep, I reckon it's time to bring back the spittoon!
44) "Gentle, moderate or strong, every breeze carries cigarette smoke."
Careful now, JT, until you can create a perfectly smokeless "smoke" you'd best lay off stating the obvious: cigarettes burn and emanate smoke. What's more, your product is operated by inhaling said smoke... and what goes in, must come out. Hmm, perhaps JT should add flavorings to the tobacco so that users will swallow the smoke, there to be safely "exhaled" sometime later in a place of the smoker's choosing.
45) "My smoke is enveloping that man over there."
So that's why people smoke: each cigarette creates a hazy stalker genie who has the power to surround perfect strangers in a cloak of poisonous emanations. Their very thoughts can be manipulated, if only to "I wish that ignorant jerk would put out that %$@& cigarette!"
46) "Find yourself a portable ashtray of your personal choice. You'd always want to carry it around with you."
Doesn't this ad go against ad #41, "In the winter, my pockets are stuffed with portable ashtrays"? So what's it gonna be, JT, should we carry around the freakin' portable ashtrays or not? If yes, fine: smokers who carry around portable ashtrays in the same fashion as wristwatches, cellphones etc are less likely to simply flick away their butt, American-style. And as this is Japan, an entire industry will spring up to decorate, accessorize and otherwise personalize everybody's portable ashtrays. We all win!
47) "What's the use of stashing away something "portable" in your drawer?"
We're talking to YOU, dude with the giant pencil. Another ad that offers constructive hints on how to use your portable ashtray. I'll sum it up for you: (a) It's an ashtray, and (b) It's portable. Unless it's the one depicted in this ad, which is twice as tall as a tree and portable only if you're Superman. Does the Man of Steel smoke?
48) "Asked "May I smoke?" while taking out a cigarette."
A very incisive ad that, unusually, cuts right to the point in exposing a common ettiquette faux pas smokers tend to commit. The ad equates the smoker's lighter as a gun, in response to which his "partners" can only raise their hands in surrender. It's the old "mind if I cut in?" line asked by a pushy rival AFTER he's already hijacked your prom date.
49) "A portable ashtray in hand. A stranger, but probably a sensible person"
JT is definitely losing their sense of subtlety as these ads go on. Good citizens carry (and use) portable ashtrays; bad ones do not. Which one are you, buddy? An upright, moral, right-thinking member of society who, though they may be a stranger, is obviously someone worth knowing OR... one of those nasty evil-doers intent on the downfall of all that's decent, who display their contempt for society with every filthy butt they indiscriminately flick - ideally into the face of an innocent child? OK, maybe JT's not the only one losing their sense of subtlety.
50) "I had to walk around, looking for a stand ashtray. Instead of resting, I was just tiring myself."
Is the concept of exercising so foreign to the Sultans of Smoke at Japan Tobacco? C'mon guys, your main customers may not be known for their high level of swim times bested, goals scored or marathons ran - all hard to do while sucking on a smoldering cig, admittedly - but searching for a stand ashtray is all the exercise some paunchy puffers ever get.
Word to the winded: if leisurely wandering in search of a stand ashtray is getting you all sweaty & wheezy, maybe it's time to kick the habit. Either that or kindly refer to ad #46: "Find yourself a portable ashtray of your personal choice. You'd always want to carry it around with you."
So, is Japan Tobacco running out of ideas as we close in on ad #73? Is Japan running out of portable ashtrays faster than JT can suggest ways to use them? And what happens when tens of millions of portable ashtrays inevitably are emptied?
Tune in next time for ten more ads, carefully filtered for your mannerly smoking pleasure *cough* (via Conbinibento)
You may view the first, second, third and fourth installments of this series by clicking the highlighted links.