Sunday, June 17, 2007
Tongari Corn chips is Bugles! These crunchy little suckers are the pretty much as uninspired and insipid as the marketing idea (I hate to call it food) that hit the USA in late 60s. In fact, they may not be as tasty as the original turd-like cornucopia known as the Bugle. Light and crisp they are - but that's about all. What Tongari Corn chips have, though, is marketing. They have integrated themselves into the market with commercials featuring J-pop stars du jour and relatively uninspired creative production. But the commercials hit a bullseye on big cultural signifiers. A recent set features J-pop star Tsubasa Imai in situations built around American suburbs, beaches and farmlands. Tsubasa is very recognizable by Tongari's target market. The commercials are set in America - ostensibly because corn is an American grain. The imprimeur of American-ness, though, is cool (even though in this case, it's pretty corny) and there is a national myth of Japan as lagging behind in the world, especially against American success - and that's why the Japanese must work so hard! Healing the wounds of losing WWII by sharing Tongari Corn with down-home American farmers and suburban mall rats, enjoying these simple pleasures in a places of pure leisure - all backgrounded with snippets of hit songs - are what have made these snack popular. It certainly is not the taste. A perfect post-modern tidbit - insubstantiality seasoned with easily digestible lies. They still leave a bit of bad taste in one's mouth.