Sunday, July 20, 2014

Arashi CM's - When Corporate Giants Take Note of (and Capitalize) Arashi Personalities

It's the year of Arashi's 15th debut anniversary, and our five lovely men are going to be in Hawaii this September to celebrate it in style. With 30,000 fans there to celebrate with them, of course. But the fans aren't the only ones eager to show their appreciation of the wonderful social phenomenon that is Arashi. Several of Japan's biggest corporations are also publicly throwing their weight behind the Arashi Hawaii Blast 2014 with special deals and interactive quizzes/raffles that offer consumers the chance to win the highly coveted tickets to the concert. I'm talking about international industry giants like Hitachi and Nissan, both of which are offering concert tour packages to a few lucky winners, and other prominent companies like Salonpas (also offering concert tour packages to participants who complete a quiz and then enter a raffle) and JAL (Japan Airlines), who is collaborating directly with J&A to provide the air transportation in the aforementioned concert tour packages.

From top to bottom: Hitachi, Nissan, Salonpas, all
offering chances to win Awashi Blast tour packages!
(via @st0rmluuuuuv on Twitter)
And what do these four companies all have in common? That's right, an Arashi endorsement! Nino is currently the face of Salonpas, while all five members appear in ads for the other three.

Which brings us to the vibrant topic of Arashi CM's. I'll admit it, I obsess over Arashi CM's. I download them, I watch every second of the precious 15 or 30 seconds of running time, and I even delight myself with the short little "making of" segments that pop up on ZIP! or Asa Days or whatever other news digest program it is that reports them.

There's just something inherently fun about the world of advertising: it's where creative minds come together to construct an idealized fantasy image of what our everyday lives should be like. So there's always happy people, delicious food, clean homes, and abounding energy that celebrates how great it is to be living, and how such-and-such product is an integral part of that warm fuzzy image. And it's a world where it's okay to be blatantly fake and over-the-top,too, because these little snippets last only 15 - 30 seconds anyways.

And now combine that with Arashi, aka Rainbow-land, aka the never-ending fountain of sparkly positive energy. And wow, I mean, just wow. Never mind the fact that I don't have any occasion to purchase most of the products they endorse, I have literally sat through half-hour compilation videos of just Arashi commercials and eagerly devoured every second of them anyways.

Clearly, I'm not the only one who is this obsessed, because Arashi are hot commodities when it comes to advertising endorsements in Japan. A recent ranking by Oricon Style has all the members of Arashi in the top 10 for number of commercial endorsements by a male tarento in the first half of 2014 (see below).

Oricon Style's ranking for the male (L) and female (R)
tarento's CM endorsement for the first half of 2014
(via @Arashi_Circle on Twitter).

While this is a testament to Arashi's popularity, it is also a clear reflection of how suitable their images are for advertising. Arashi is just so healthy, so fresh, and so happy; I can see how it would be any CM scriptwriter's dream to be able to cast them in an ad. They can be the national otoutos, playing video games against each other (Nintendo), or they can be glamorous stylists, riding in limousines with beautiful, long-lashed models (Fasio). They can be ordinary salarymen, content after a warm phone call to their family (au), or they can be young hotshots, dressed in suave suits as they take to the sky in JAL's plush leather seats. Sometimes, they can even be purple aliens, come to help you magically get rid of your allergies (Allegra), or Willy Wonka-like show-runners, inviting you to a magical new world of gaming (Puzzles & Dragons).

The amount of things we can do with a group whose image is as diverse and malleable as Arashi is astounding, and makes for some very creative commercials. But I am of the personal opinion that the best CM's are the ones that up-play the real life personalities of the members as we know them.

Here are some examples of that:

CM Case 1 - Hitachi

Hitachi currently has all five members contracted as official endorsers of their various electronic appliances, and it's a corporation with a very keen eye for using Arashi's personalities and inter-group dynamics to sell their products.

They took note of Leader Ohno's characteristic absent-mindedness and love of fishing in this CM for their washing machine. The basic premise here was that Riida was so busy reading fishing magazines and testing his new rod that he forgot his friend's wedding. Oh no!

So he quickly grabs a pearly clean shirt straight from his awesome eco laundry machine and rushes out to attend the wedding.

Only our absent-minded leader was in such a hurry that he accidentally grabbed a fishing rod instead of a wedding gift as he steps out of his house. LOL. The advertising and PR department at Hitachi sure knows how to crack an inside joke with all the Arashi fans in the nation.

And because they seem to have done their research on Arashi, they must also know that one of the most kyaa-inducing segments of any Arashi concert is this thing called Ohmiya SK. So here, they hand the public a lovely fanfic-worthy scene where Nino gets kidnapped by a UFO during a nice night-time stroll with his Oh-chan.

Hitachi's LED CM featuring Ohno and Nino. The concept was that
Hitachi's LED lamps were as bright and enticing as a UFO.

Ohno yells, "Nino! Nino!' while Nino (who is screaming, "Help me, Leader!") helplessly get sucked up and trapped within the spaceship. Boom. Dead. Thousands of Ohmiya shippers had a collective heart attack. Thousands of Arashi fans in general felt their insides melt into warm fuzzy puddles of sweetness.

Because member-ai is a surefire way to the fandom's heart, and when the fandom is as big and far-reaching as Arashi's, well... I'm guessing that translates into quite some impressive sales figures? Maybe that's why Hitachi decided to spend the big bucks to contract all five members. Inter-member play is something that sells, after all (just ask Johnny!), and having all five under their umbrella means that Hitachi CM's feature some of the most member-ai-ish CM moments ever!

(Note: I don't actually know if there has been any published quantification of Arashi's impact on Hitachi sales figures, so this is just speculation, but if anyone knows, please do comment!)

Anyways, more on Hitachi making good displays of Arashi member's personalities. In this vacuum CM, we see Nino, who is exerting himself quite a bit to use magic to clean his shared home with Jun.

Of course, Mr. Perfect Matsumoto Jun already has a better solution, as he shows Nino with a cool snap of his fingers.

Poof! A magic Hitachi vacuum appears! And Nino leans forward in awe. LOL. Thank you, Hitachi, for treating us to more of perfectionist Jun, cool Jun, and neat freak Jun!

And what's Arashi without glutton!Sho and some beloved Sakuraiba? Here, let's sample this humorous refrigerator CM:


We start with Aiba, who has just caught a fish, made it into sashimi and is ready to enjoy it right there on the boat.


But then, a magical window suddenly opens out of nowhere, and a pair of arms reach out from it to grab the mouthwatering platter of sashimi straight from under Aiba's astonished nose.

"Ah! So fresh! Delicious!"
The culprit is the greedy glutton Sakurai Sho! Ah, just look at that expression of satiation on his face! Anyone else here reminded of those Shukudai-kun days?

We end on a note of humor, as poor bullied Aiba is threading bait onto his hook to catch himself another lunch. Sho opens the magic window and asks, "Can you catch a tuna next?" Aiba sulkily snaps back, "NO!" And that playful look on glutton!Sho's face is enough to make any fan swoon. Good job, Hitachi!

CM Case 2 - Kirin

Kirin is also one of those lucky corporations that have managed to snag all five members as their official endorsers, and their contract with Arashi is still ongoing as of now (though for a while they were lacking Sho). The Kirin Green Label CM's showcased some of the best Arashi OT5 and Arashi teamwork ads that ever graced the airwaves. They were marketing something extremely genki and fun, (namely, beer), so naturally the atmosphere of these CM's were all light and frothy.

Now if this isn't a blatant OT5 image, then I don't know what is.

And we see more precious Arashi teamwork in the above CM, where all five are working together to create this gargantuan tribute to Kirin beer (made entirely of balloons):

It's like Kirin knows that people love Arashi because of their friendship and bond. And so they give the public what we want to see: Arashi cooperation and Arashi happiness in an Arashi secret base, where the members can work, play and prank each other (yup! there was one where Nino is playing hide-and-seek with Ohno, Aiba and Jun and gets pranked with a case of black-ink-eye teehee!) like the special brotherhood we all imagine them to be. 

Like in the above CM, where we see Leader trying to sneak a treat into their secret base. The Kaze Trio notices, of course, and follow him (because he has the treat!), and we find Riida sitting, waiting for them with this classic Riida expression:

"Wanna drink?" - Riida

And more blatant symbolism of Arashi teamwork: 

Too bad they didn't have Sho back then. 

CM Case 3 - JAL (Japan Airlines)

JAL is, again, one of Arashi's current contractors, and they have produced some amazingly beautiful CM's with subtle hints of Arashi's underlying personalities.

Because of course, Oh-chan would be the one to have a ridiculously-sized rice cracker in the middle of an airport, and of course, Aiba would nonchalantly stick a frickin' lobster onto a scanner a have it miraculously work. Ha ha! But I was most tickled by JAL's little dig at Fail!Sho at the end of this CM:

Sho is heading for the wrong plane! His band mates wave laughingly
for him to join them, and he rushes over.
The Fail!Sho is doubly funny because, as all fans know, Sho is probably the one out of the five who is usually most familiar with everyone's schedules and appointments and least likely to make a mistake like get on the wrong plane. But it is this sort of "gap" between the different sides of his personality that attracts us. And JAL is only too delighted to give us just what we want to see.

JAL also has quite the wry sense of humor, as seen in some rather meta dialogues in the CM's.

The members are all admiring the view of the sea. Riida, being the one with a unique eye for perspectives, points out to Aiba that if you look at two rocks in the ocean from a certain angle, they look like a heart. Aiba exclaims in delight at the realization. Nino remarks how romantic it looks. And then Jun says, "It's great that we came, with JAL's early special." Nino (and Aiba behind him) turns to look at him skeptically. Nino says, "Say that again?" So Jun obliges, and says clearly, "It's great that we came, with JAL's early special."

Sho then points to Jun, asking, "You just did it wonderfully, just like a JAL CM." And then they see an elderly couple sitting on the beach, who asks them, "Did you come here on JAL?" Aiba answers, "With JAL's early special!" The couple nods, smiling, which prompts the ever-skeptical Sho-kun to remark, "Those people are JAL people, aren't they?"

Ah JAL, so meta. There was another CM (which I'm too lazy to cap, because I only have a really low-res version of it) where they show Arashi filming a JAL CM and then chatting to each other about JAL's early special to each other during a shooting break. And yet another one exists with Arashi accepting an alien's invitation to go on a trip on his spaceship. While in the spaceship, Arashi finds that it's quite stinky, noisy, and the drinks are sketchy. And then, our JAL meta-spokesperson suddenly points out the window:

"Hey, can't we go on that? We're in a JAL CM, after all."
CM Case 4 - Nintendo

I don't think Arashi are endorsing Nintendo anymore, but they did in the past. And Nintendo certainly played up their images as the friendly national little brothers in their CM series. Nintendo also made sure to really personalize the members, even going so far as to treat us to a CM series where we get to watch Sakurai Sho design each and every member of Arashi as a Nintendo Mii.

Arashi, as designed by Sho.
We then get a CM where the other four members come in to admire Sho's work. There was a lot of fun made regarding MatsuJun's strong features and heavy brows, and some remarks on Nino's pouty mouth. Everyone agreed that Mii!Ohno looked nothing like the real Ohno, though. Haha!

We then get a series of CM's where various Arashi combis and groups face off against each other. And familiar character traits of each member are shown, like in this Wii Basketball CM, where Aiba tells Ohno, "Hey, I used to be on the basketball team." and then proceeds to guard him. Aiba also is shown making an impressive 3-pointer streak later on in the CM. After the game, Ohno asks him, "What were your memories of those three years (on the basketball team)?" Aiba wipes at his forehead and replies, "Ah, all sweat."

And in one of the Nintendo Wii Party CM's, Sho actually quizzes the other members on "What thing do I most hate when I'm in a movie theater?" All the members chuckle and agree that the answer must be 2 (when people beside him are noisy). Again, the powerful selling point in this CM is the bond between Arashi, and not just the audience's level of understanding of their characters, but more so Arashi's understanding of their own bandmates. It just creates this lovely atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie, which is what the Wii Party is supposed to be about, right?

And how can Nintendo possibly pass up the opportunity to make a little salute to Ninomiya Kazunari, the infamous gamer otaku of Arashi? Cue the Mario outfit!

CM Case 5 - Nissan

Nissan is one of Arashi's current contractors and they've made quite a few fresh CM series with the members all together and in various combis. They've had Ohno and Aiba make soba with a bunch of children, and we see again Aiba's incredible enthusiasm with kids:

They've also had all of Arashi dress up in a sailor AU with Ohno as the captain (all CM's, when they involve all five, seem to like putting Ohno in the leadership position). Of course, the naturally curious and vivacious character Aiba has to be the role of the scout!

Scout Aiba: "Captain! I see Nissan's OOOO sale up ahead!"

And Aiba's image of being the curious, fun-loving manchild is further made use of when Riida unveils some fabulous new technology in another CM:

Aiba doesn't even hesitate to raise his hand and volunteer to be the first test-driver. And his tone of amazement and excited chatter as he sees the camera technology at work is also pretty typical of him, too.

Nissan does not forget that Arashi has an artist in their midst, and in this Nissan Note CM, we see Ohno talking about drawing and the future (which I guess is supposed to be related to the Note because the Note is really eco-friendly and hence future-friendly, get it? haha).

Nissan's CM's can be pretty posh, too, and they don't hesitate at all to make use of the poshest person in Arashi for that:

Because of course, if there's one person who could sip coffee in a moving car and look absolutely fabulous and elegant doing so, it'd be Matsumoto Jun.

Nissan likes to let the inter-member dynamics bloom, too. So we see scenes like this one:

where Ohno is his usual clueless self who doesn't concern himself much with the newest trends or technologies. But of course, the ever trendy Jun, who is the complete opposite, serves as a very useful guide, and even smirks a little at the wonder and amazement that the new Nissan car brings to his Leader. It's these cute little CM moments, where the directors just let Arashi be themselves, that strike at me the deepest.

More Arashi teamwork (with a bulldog):

CM Case 6 - au 

Arashi is no longer under contract by Japanese telecommunications provider au, but when they were, boy those were some of the most kakkoii CM's Arashi has ever been in. But my focus in this post isn't about bursting ovaries, so I'll spare you those details. Instead, we'll look at how au has taken advantage of showcasing the Arashi personalities and Arashi member-ai. Let's start with Yama, shall we?

We have a lonely Sho enjoying his au phone to look at a video of Oh-chan sleeping. Hmmm... you know, my focus may not be on the kakkoii stuff from au, but that really doesn't guarantee safety of your ovaries... I'm getting serious Yama vibes here ><!

And because Aiba is often referred to as someone who is good with animals due to his affiliation with TSD, au sneaks a little shot of him watching a video of an exotic baboon on his nifty au phone.

There's a lot more in the au series worth looking at, too. Like this one series where called「もし僕が、嵐でなかったら。」 (If I wasn't in Arashi...), where each member was in a sort of alternate universe as young professionals going through life with the help of their multifunctional au phones. Nino was featured as an aspiring young actor who just got a role. Ohno was some sort of salaryman in a media company who really liked to enjoy 3D images on his phone in his downtime. And I'm not sure of the others' versions because I haven't seen them. But in any case, I thought it was quite a nice concept, and one that seemed almost aimed at Arashi fans.

And this post cannot end without me talking about the Android au with Google series, which was just so full of member-ai that I can't even...

We had scenes like this, where Sho proudly shows Aiba a close-up feed of Ohno's neck. (Aiba asks, "You have a neck fetish?").

There were also scenes like this, where Jun was searching for nearby members to hang out with.

Nino was taking pictures of his rabbit from various angles and editing it with image filters before being interrupted by a call, to which he responded, "Sorry, I have important work to do right now." xDD That is sooo Nino-like.

We have Leader taking 360 panoramic shots of Nino, his muse.

We even get a little dig at Sho-kun's terrible art skills (clearly, going digital does not enhance his abilities in any way). The top part, drawn by Sho, is supposed to be an elephant while the bottom part, drawn by Nino on another phone, is a giraffe.

And there are many other cute instances that screencapping wouldn't really do much to explain. Like when Sho teasingly Skypes Aiba and asks him coyly "Who am I~?" or when Aiba is reading a manga on his phone and remarks to Jun, "This guy looks like you!" (a possible reference to the fact that Jun has been said to look like he's walked out of a manga?), or when Mr. One-pack Nino tells Mr. Stoic Jun "I want to work on my abs." and Jun immediately searches up several nearby gyms for Nino. Hah! The best one was where Aiba dictates "I love you, Nino." into his phone. Is my Aimiya heart even beating, still? Phew!

And this now brings us to the end of the post. Keep a sharp eye out for those upcoming Arashi CM's!


  1. another interesting post! i really enjoy reading this and remembering the cms that i had to literally find the ones i missed on youtube. LOL.
    i'm always amused and curious about how much these major companies paid to get all five of Japan's top idol to be their endorsers. however, i won't complain and instead thankful for them. haha
    i think i watch 90% of the cms you posted and find myself going back to watch it from to time. i was showing the nintendo cm to my non-Arashi friend and she said she can see/feel how close they were XD !!
    my favorite would be when the other four (excluding Nino) trying to match sound from the right wii stick with the animal. LOVEEEEE NINO's laugh when the members jerked from the sofa, priceless. and the other one where they played hide-n-seek.
    Hitachi CMs are brillant! exactly everything you wrote down. I always think how fun/chaotic it would be if the five had a share house together (HnA?) they're like brothers from a different mother.

    their individuals are good to but of course nothing beats having all of them togther <3

    thanks for another fun and interesting post :)

    1. Thanks for reading!

      Over the years, Arashi has certainly been pretty prolific about CM's. There are so many CM's that I haven't even gotten to in this post! Like all their solo CM's and the CM's they did in their early days and their Jr days. And they were all great fun to watch!

      I do wonder how much companies have to pay for an Arashi endorsement. I bet it's quite expensive. Johnny probably makes a lot off of these corporate deals.

      I totally agree about the Nintendo CM's, they really make you feel like they're just a bunch of friends having fun on a laid back day. I loved watching them play each other ^^ And the Hitachi CM's are my personal favorite ^^

  2. Can we enter Japan Endless Discovery there? Well, it's not really a consumerism, but it still a commercial, right? Ehehehehe

    And you forgot WiiParty! Where they had to party (literary ehem) in a CM w Wii! Ooo, I love that CM.

    If Au, that "If I wasnt in Arashi" were unforgetabble ne. But, the last Au CM they did also couldnt be say half-ass CM! So much hotness. I still remember the song from Sex Pistol, right? We got 4version of it?

    And not forgetting, the un-official endorsement they did with their provate life. Such as Ohchan sandal, their VSA outfit, Sho-kun versace bag, aplenty which I cant mention one by one! Or all the desert Jun/Shitsu-Choco made into TV which got sold out?

    Just WOW
    It's never ending boasting XDD

    1. Ah yes, the endless discovery CM! I enjoyed that a lot too, but there were just too many things to fit into this post already!

      I had not forgotten the WiiParty (how could I? That CM series was uber cute!), but I just had to limit myself to a few CM's per company otherwise this post would have taken me years to finish lol! There are so many CM's that I wish I could have put in here >< Like all the members' solo CMs, the old CM's they did when they were super young (McDonalds, Tongari Corn etc.) and even the CM's from their junior days (tomogocchi, pino etc.). Ah, maybe I should just gif spam all of those in another post someday when I have time haha.

      The unofficial endorsements are powerful! Haha I totally wished I was in Japan so I could buy those chocolates from Jun's drama earlier this year, too ><

      Thanks for reading!! And boast on, it's okay <3

  3. HK, it's yet another one of your comical and interesting write up! *bravo!*
    The boys are hot stuff after all. And of course they do impact the sales will definitely pay more attention on their CMs knowing how big Arashi is ^^
    How I wish I sat on THAT JAL plane!

    Hmm, will you now excuse me while I find the nearest Nissan showroom ...

    1. Haha yes, if I lived in Japan, I would totally be cooling off with Mister Donut Ice cream and blowing my nose with the tissues Jun endorses while making all sorts of Ajinomoto goods that Sho eats so deliciously. And naturally, my fridge would probably be Hitachi (I think my parents have some Hitachi goods and they're nice to use) and in it I'll store Pino and Oronamin C. And of course, my go-to snack would be Pocky (it already is Pocky, even now lol).

      I wish I could sit on that JAL plane too!! *sigh*

      Thanks for reading, dear!