Foreigners have been used in Japanese commercials for many years. Based on a collection of 40,000 commercials, this presentation shows that their use is based on marketing considerations, which are in turn based on constructed racial and ethnic hierarchies within Japanese society. White people appear more often than all other groups combined, are represented through various stereotypes and advertise for nearly all product categories. On the other hand, the number of black and Asian people is highly limited. The former are represented as musicians and athletes, the latter with products from their countries of origin or as stars. Many of the stereotypes and images of foreigners in these commercials can also be found in other areas of Japanese society. This presentation discusses the marketing reasons for the use of foreigners in a social and cultural context (such as attracting attention, or adding value/prestige to a product).
Michael Prieler holds a M.A. from Vienna University and a Ph.D. from Tohoku University, Sendai. Currently, he is collaborating with Florian Kohlbacher (DIJ) on the project “Advertising to the Silver Market in Japan.”