Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
In these hard times, you know a car is important when the maker hires Robert de Niro to promote it.
That honour goes to Subaru’s new flagship Legacy touring wagon, which went on sale in Japan today. Fuji Heavy Industries (which owns the Subaru brand) even put out a press release last week just to say the two-time Oscar winner would appear in its TV commercials in Japan.
“It’s the first time he’s appearing in a commercial for a Japanese company – ever,” a Fuji Heavy spokesman told me proudly the other day. He guessed that Hollywood actors are “twice, three times, or four times more expensive” to hire than a local celebrity.
It is well-known that international movie and rock stars get lucrative work moonlighting in Japanese TV commercials - witness the famous gadzillion-dollar Mitsubishi Electric VCR commercials in the late 80s starring Madonna. This tradition was even parodied in the film “Lost in Translation”, in which Bill Murray plays a Hollywood has-been actor filming a whiskey commercial in Tokyo.
Attending a media conference given by a Hollywood star in Tokyo is often more of an exercise for the shoulder muscles than journalistic instincts. If you are obviously not Japanese, you can sit right up front and raise your hand as far and fast as you like, but chances are the MC will not pick on you to ask a question.
I got back from a news conference where Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard were promoting their new film “Angels and Demons” nursing a familiar sore shoulder, but not the pithy quotes I had hoped for about the Vatican’s reaction to a movie some Catholics see as offensive.