It may be obvious, but sometimes you forget that not all adverts are broadcast everywhere. In fiction, there are examples in Friends‘ Joey, who advertised men’s lipstick, or Bill Murray’s character in Lost in Translation, who showcased whiskey. In real life, too, celebrities do adverts assuming no one in their home countries will see them – but with many of these ads now making their way onto YouTube, you now no longer need to visit Tokyo to experience these 30 seconds of far-out comedic brilliance. From Hulk Hogan flogging air conditioners, to Rick Astley promoting cider, here are 15 of the weirdest.
1. James Brown
The year: 1992
The product: Miso Noodles
Weirdest moment: James Brown singing in Japanese about noodles over the instrumental of ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being Like A) Sex Machine’.
2. Nicholas Cage
The year: 2006
The product: Pachinko (A Japanese arcade game)
Weirdest moment: Where to begin… All five of these commercials that Nicholas Cage made with Pachinko are classic Cage. However, the ad that takes the number one spot for the weirdest moment is when Cage dons a cowboy outfit and a comical Texas accent and dances with a group silver pinball men.
3. Hulk Hogan
The year: 1991
The product: Hitachi Bigflow Air Conditioner
Weirdest moment: When Hulk Hogan lies in a bed of clouds and stares at a baby, just after singing the days of the week wrong. A good way to promote air conditioning apparently…
4. Rick Astley
The year: Late 80s/Early 90s
The product: Mitsuya Cider
Weirdest moment: When Rick cracks open a cold one with the boys, while singing his 1988 single ‘Take Me to Your Heart’.
5. Justin Bieber
The year: 2017
The product: Softbank
Weirdest moment: When JB is being circled by a group of ninjas and they all take pictures of him. Naturally he screams back at them.
6. Sylvester Stallone
The year: Early ’90s
The product: Ham
Weirdest moment: When Sylvester Stallone decides to rock up to some random family’s home with a suitcase of ham.
7. Harrison Ford
The year: 1994
The product: Kirin Ichiban Beer
Weirdest moment: Harrison Ford is sat in a sauna with some Japanese man and they both decide to drink an invisible glass of beer together.
8. Arnold Schwarzenegger
The year: Late 80s/Early 90s
The product: Vfuyy Energy Drink
Weirdest moment: Much like Nicholas Cage, Arnie made various bizarre commercials for Vfuyy. The weirdest moment of these adverts is when he looks directly at the camera lens and laughs hysterically into your soul.
9. Keanu Reeves
The year: ’90s
The product: Suntory Whiskey
Weirdest moment: Keanu follows a stray cat that comes in through his flat’s window, which then turns into a woman. With a questionable conclusion, this is far from Keanu’s finest work.
10. Bruce Willis
The year: 90s
The product: ENEOS Oil
Weirdest moment: It’s pretty hard to decipher what’s going on with this one. We see Bruce Willis surrounded by dozens of ringing telephones whilst he tries to sleep, to which he then blasts them away with a magical lightning wilding petrol pump. Just watch and revel in the obscurity.
11. Ben Stiller
The year: 1999
The product: Kirin Chu-Hi (Lemon flavoured alcoholic drink)
Weirdest moment: Ben Stiller’s OTT performance and enthusiasm for the Japanese equivalent of Smirnoff Ice is so ridiculously excessive, you could even mistake it as a scene from Zoolander – in which Zoolander plays a merman in a similarly wiggy ad.
12. Tommy Lee Jones
The year: Since 2006
The product: Boss Coffee
Weirdest moment: In this long-running series of ads, Tommy Lee Jones poses as an alien visiting Japan. Our favourite is when he disguises himself as a teacher and shoots laser eyes throughout the school.
13. Elijah Wood
The year: 2014
The product: Honda
Weirdest moment: When Frodo stares at an animated Peter Rabbit with the same lust that Gollum has for the One Ring. Don’t ask why, we don’t have a clue either.
The year: 1995
The product: Taraka Sake
Weirdest moment: Madge fights a golden dragon with samurai sword and slices off a part of its body, which naturally turns into a glass of Sake.
15. Hugh Jackman (from 1:18 in the below clip)
The year: 2015
The product: Toyota
Weirdest moment: When Hugh Jackman transforms from a waiter into an explorer, we think. Just see for yourself and you’ll understand, hopefully.
Words: Liam Egan