Puff Politely: Japan Tobacco's 'Smoking Manners for Adults' Ads, Part 3
Japan Tobacco finds itself in a bind. Like other cigarette makers and distributors, JT is saddled with a product that is at the same time popular and unhealthy. Advertising cigarettes, when it is allowed at all, has to be handled with care and discretion. With their “Smoking Manners for Adults” ads, JT avoids the whole “to smoke or not to smoke” conundrum, focusing instead on ways smokers can lower their profile and not annoy non-smokers. The results are not only amusing, but give insight into Japanese culture and society.
Ads 21 through 30, presented here in a spirit of bemusement and accompanied by commentary by yours truly, show that being a Good Smoker doesn't require a lot of smoke & mirrors. At least, not any mirrors...
21) "When I looked back, I realized I was colliding with the person behind me even though we weren't touching."
My cigarette smoke; my self... this ad illustrates the fact that to non-smokers, the odoriferous cloud that trails a walking smoker can be considered an extension of said smoker. In Japan, personal space is respected and treasured. It remains to be seen just how smokers can keep their smoke to themselves when out in public, however. Can somebody invent a Super Smoke-eating Vacutron please? In Hello Kitty motif for the ladies.
22) "I was passing through a crowd carrying a flame. But that's best left to the Olympic torch runner."
This very timely ad somewhat exaggerates the fact that brandishing a burning tube of combustible material, the tip of which glows red hot at a temperature of 800 degrees, is not to be taken lightly. To quote Elaine (Seinfeld), “I don't know how you guys walk around with those things.”
23) "I was looking for shells, but all I could find were cigarette butts."
Ah yes, a day at the beach... for too many Japanese, the world's largest ashtray. While our intrepid shell collector may be disappointed by the frequency of tossed butts, it could be worse. They could be beachcombing the Jersey shore where cigarette butts mingle amidst used hypos and the odd mob hit.
24) "When I bumped into someone, I apologized. When my smoke hit your face, I said nothing."
This ad states plainly that your smoke packs a punch, even to the extent of equating an actual physical “bump” with a, er, gas-ical “bump”. Since this is Japan, one is expected to bow to the offended party. Public smokers ought to be flipping up & down like a toilet seat on bingo night.
25) "The cool cowboy flicks his cigarette butt into the street. But he lives in an old movie."
Try as they might, JT just can't erase the image of Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper etc taking that final puff and disdainfully flicking the butt away before setting out to clean up the town. They do have a point, however... who's going to clean up the town after Stewart, Cooper etc cleans up the town?
26) "You tossed your cigarette out the window. You looked like you were fleeing the scene of a crime."
A little Film Noir imagery here – with the added bonus of a car that “runs away”. Well, Film Noir plus The Flintstones, I guess. The crowning glory is the classic chalk outline surrounding the cigarette butt “body”.
27) "Before passing gas I look behind me. But I don't bother when I'm smoking."
“Silent but deadly”... a great slogan for the anti-secondhand smoke lobby! Of course, the reason (most) people scout the scene when flatulence is imminent is that silence can never be assured. With that in mind, I suggest cigarette makers build tiny kazoo's into each smoke.
28) "The fire disappears beneath his shoe. Unfortunately, the butt still remains."
While the manufacturers are installing those tiny kazoo's, have them mix some bubblegum into the filter. That way, when the smoker steps on his discarded butt, it will remain... stuck to the bottom of his shoe. Dibs on both innovations, by the way.
29) "When someone walks a step away from me, maybe it's a silent complaint about the cigarette in my hand."
Smokers seem to think their emanations smell just fine - that goes for their “gas” as well. I'd like to avoid the former as well as the latter, wouldn't you?
30) "Don't smoke in a crowd. Coats are expensive."
In the USA, you could replace the word “smoke” with “shoot”. Either way, i'm not sure the smoker/shooter would care overly much. We could ask why the smoker in this ad goes coatless – and hatless – but we might also wonder if this ad is rotated out during the summer; replaced by one that advises “skin is expensive”.
So concludes our third go-round showcasing numbers 21 through 30 of Japan Tobacco's "Smoking Manners for Adults" ads.
J A P A N O R A M A