15 goofy Japanese adverts these music and film stars don’t want you to know about

From Justin Bieber and Hugh Jackman to James Brown and Madonna, many celebs have starred in strange ads overseas

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.

14. Madonna

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


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