Archive for March 30, 2007

Get a Makku: “Mac vs PC” Ads Tell a Different Tale in Japan

In 2006, as most U.S. television viewers know, Apple computers launched a series of “Get a Mac” ads comparing Mac computers to PCs (Windows). Mac is portrayed by charming, slacker-type movie star Justin Long, and PC is brought to life by comedian John Hodgman, a commentator for Comedy Central‘s The Daily Show.

Since last May, more than 20 separate skits have been released, each touting the supposedly user-friendly Mac as superior to the supposedly virus-ridden PC. Although they anger some PC users, the ads are considered a success by the likes of Ad Age Magazine and The Wall Street Journal, not to mention Apple itself, which has increased sales overall. Another reason the ads are popular in the U.S. is because Macs are considered the clear underdog in the competition with all-powerful Microsoft.

My favorite ad is the holiday skit from last December, “Gift Exchange,” in which Mac gives PC a photo album filled with images from the past year, and PC gives Mac the C++Gui programming guide, which of course, PC really wanted for himself.


YouTube video of “Gift Exchange”:

A similar campaign has popped up in Japan, but the ads are not identical. In fact, cultural differences between the two countries required the commercials to be re-written from scratch.

Starring “Ra-menzu” (The Rahmens, aka Jin Katagiri and Kentaro Kobayashi), an absurdist comedy duo popular in Japan, the slightly watered-down ads emphasize the positive aspects of both types of computers: Macs are “special,” warm, friendly, and good to settle in with at home after work, while PCs are perfect for the office and running a business, though they admit to having only “business acquaintances” (rather than close friends).

Pasokon (PC) wouldn’t mind a more fun-sounding name. Hearing this, Makku (Mac) gives Pasokon the nickname “WaaKu” (the Japanese way of saying “Work”). It’s Makku and WaaKu, together at last!

YouTube Video of Subtitled Japanese Ad, “Nickname”:

Even though Justin Long as the U.S. Mac treats PC with kindness (wiping PC’s nose when he gets a virus, for example), the fact that he directly and favorably compares himself to a competitor is a big no-no in Japan. In fact, it’s considered obnoxious, arrogant, or downright rude to make points like that so explicitly.

While the U.S. ads stress the differences between the actors’ style, appearance and age (young vs. old, cool vs. nerdy) the Japanese actors are of similar build, age and character type. Any teasing or comparisons are very low-key and not insulting. The fact that The Rahmens already have an established comedic presence makes the ads entertaining to their target audience, and their soft humor and charisma is also apparent.



Sarah S.

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March 30, 2007 at 5:06 pm 6 comments

riseup japan support japan and be cool


March 2007


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