Friday, 23 November 2012

Next A-Class

Quick - how many tabs do you have open right now? I'm really fond of opening new tabs, myself. And since the university Internets have torrents blocked, 8 of my 31 tabs are currently occupied by YouTube. This means I end up getting hit with a lot of commercials, and as long as they're in Japanese I usually watch them. You know, for practise. That's how I was introduced to this:

And immediately wanted to share it with you. Damn, it's a masterpiece.

If you are unwilling or unable to watch, here's a precis: We open on a scene of a high-speed police chase in America, pulling back to reveal a young girl watching a television screen on the streets of Shibuya. A nondescript truck trundles by and she takes off after it with a cry. We cut to two detectives, an older bearded guy and a bespectacled young gun. The girl implores them to help her give chase and for some reason they immediately agree, but are quickly given the slip. They pull over by the road so that the old guy can attend to some minor maintenance issue when the truck pulls past for a second time. They all leap inside their vehicle to resume pursuit, only this time the robotic seats shift around so that the girl, now wearing a different costume, is driving. Around this time we finally get a good look at this supercar they've been blasting around in, and we see that it's actually a shitty little van-type thing. After a long chase sequence, they succeed in pulling over the truck, which transpires to be a travelling ramen shop. They all enjoy some ramen, the owner thanking them and remarking that he'll be able to buy some sake. Then they all drive off and the camera dives inside the forgotten ramen bowl, which has the Mazda logo emblazoned on the bottom.

This is really something else. It's now my second-favourite Japanese ad campaign ever, slightly below ホワイト家族 but above 宇宙人ジョーンズ。 Is this where modern advertising is headed? Oh man, I certainly hope so. The fact that it has an actual plot is a novel development in itself, and the smooth, clean animation makes it easy on the eyes. The action is exciting, as well, at least if you're a fan of driving. The pacing is practically perfect, as well, maintaining a good balance of action and "k no seriously what the hell is this" that hooked me from the beginning and kept my attention in a stranglehold throughout.

I think what a lot of YouTube advertisers fail to consider is that after five seconds, I'm allowed to skip to the video I'm trying to watch. There's absolutely nothing obligating me to pay it any more respect than that, so if you can't secure my attention within five seconds, you've got nothing. And yet somehow we still get ads that open on a dramatic logo revelation or something similarly inane; I'll be out of there before I even know the name of the product. You have five seconds to tell me what you're selling and give me one good reason why I should be interested. It's not necessarily easy, but it's clear-cut, isn't it?

This is where this ad really succeeds in my eyes. It immediately hits the viewer with some pretty attractive animation; even if you're not interested in anime, there's visual appeal to bank on, and if you are, you're probably already scanning the corners of the screen for a title, wondering what this new series is. And actually, that's where the ad fails: I suspected, but was unable to confirm what I was being sold until extremely late in the game. A lot of people won't even last that long. Of course, the real question is whether this extended commercial (a luxury afforded by the format, by the way, a clear benefit to YouTube advertising over traditional television) will move units. And I would have to suggest that, no, a fancy show is not going to convince a young working couple to purchase a family car. The selling points there are invested in functionality and practicality, not style.

By the way, am I the only one who totally wants Mazda to turn this thing into a 26-episode series?


  1. Da faq did I just watch. Hahahah.
    Thanks for sharing that!
    (Oh, and I had 12 tabs up. Surprising low!)

    1. You're welcome! I think it's actually better to have fewer tabs; recently Chrome crashed and none of what I had open appeared in the "recently closed tabs" tool. I was so choked I barely used the Internet for like three days. Back up to 17 now, though...