Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I try to stay away from products that are not really of Japanese origin, but I was taken by the marketing of Dr. Pepper here in Nihon.  It's not your daddy’s Dr. Pepper. Well, it’s got the same taste – that sweet, vaguely prune-juicey carbonated goodness. But Japanese marketers have gone balls out for the otaku market with crazy sexy anime illustrations of techno-babes with things like guns and bottles of Dr. Pepper spilling out of their cleavages. Politically correct it ain't. But in pure high velocity tastelessness, they're wonderful. Lowbrow art mystery man, Rockin’ Jellybean - http://www.rockinjellybean.com/ -is responsible for creating these buxom Dokuta Peppa girls. There are three of them on collectable cans that you can buy at many corner drink machines. But, damn, I always seem to get the one with the surfing lizard! Check out the Japanese Dr. Pepper websire here - http://www.drpp.jp/index.html

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Chocolate giant Meiji is like the Hershey's of Japan. Though they, like every other mega-food corp in the world, have infiltrated everything else in daily life, their ubiquitous chocolate bars are among the first things seen at the candy counters in konbis and metro snack shacks. Their Black and Meiji Milk bars have bold, somewhat old-fashioned graphics that say "I'm the chocolate that you can rely on." Somewhat like Hershey's. And just like Hershey's they make a familiar, but quite bad, chocolate.  Sure, it may be the taste you grew up with (whether in Japan or the USA), but when push comes to shove, measure to measure, the respective chocolates are really lackluster.

Nonetheless, Meiji makes 6 of the top 10 best selling chocolates in Japan.  And that's nothing to sneeze about.  

In the tireless pursuit of keeping consumers interested, they trot out different packages and ideas - which is where Panky fits in.  Panky are little dried bread hillocks slathered in chocolate.  The Japanese (and French) word for bread is "pan", thus the name of the product. And though I'm a fan of bread and chocolate, dried shokupan covered in cocoa deprived sickly sweet fondant does not make an even acceptable treat.  Ah well, they've got most of the top tier covered with their other products, so little sleep is lost worrying about the health of the company.  

Meiji, who has used David Beckham to hawk their products, have brought out teen star (now 20 years old!), Inoue Mao as the Panky spokesmodel.  She's a favorite cutie of teenagers throughout Japan and she plus a grinning, cymbal-crashing monkey seem to have caught fire with the kids.  They even made a "Making of the commercial" video.  Brilliant!