11 most ridiculous Japanese ads with American celebs
July 29th, 2011
11:22 AM ET

11 most ridiculous Japanese ads with American celebs

The Internet is undeniably making the world smaller.

And while this is a great thing for friends trying to stay in touch years after moving away from each other, there’s a certain sect of people who must suffer while the rest of us thrive.

I’m talking, of course, about American celebrities who years ago starred in bizarre, unintentionally hilarious commercials in Japan (why Japan is the main purveyor of this advertising insanity, I have no idea), only to have the Internet unearth them for the whole planet to see.

Back in the mid-'80s or mid-'90s, the stars in question probably thought (while deviously twirling a thin mustache), “By golly, I can get my paws on a nice lump sum by shilling some Japanese libation over yonder, and people stateside will be none the wiser, see!”

But that easy money scheme was blown up thanks to the Internet (emphasis on the “thanks”). Now, those epilepsy-inducing commercials with our stars gleefully hamming it up have come to our shores, and we’re the ones reaping the rewards.

So when word spread recently that Tiger Woods had done a Japanese commercial, giddiness coursed through the veins of pop-culture watchers; we thought we'd see a lighter side of the number one 21 golfer. Unfortunately, it was a staid affair. It seems that even on the other side of the globe, Woods wouldn't unleash the real Tiger (not a euphemism).

Alas, to wash away our disappointment with Tiger's ad, here are the 11 most ridiculous Japanese ads featuring shouting, over-emoting American celebrities.

11. Brad Pitt for Roots

Alone in an office, Pitt takes a swig of coffee-in-a-can, which then causes him to dance, shadowbox, smell his own armpits and also briefly clone himself. But the most ridiculous part of the whole thing is the concept that Brad Pitt works in some office.

10. Ben Stiller for Kirin Chu-Hi

Chu-hi appears to be a lemony alcoholic drink, so basically Japan’s precursor to Four Loko. Surrounded by cheerleaders and football players (they play football in Japan?), Stiller excitedly opens a can and, in the only English word in the whole ad, declares, “Fresh!”

9. Keanu Reeves for Suntory Reserve

In this drink ad (I’m beginning to sense a trend here), Reeves is toiling away at a computer in the dark, long before he’d make his career doing that as Neo in "The Matrix." But this time around, the vibe is less “the One” and more “deleted scene from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.”

8. Arnold Schwarzenegger for V&V

Arnold speaking Japanese? Check. Arnold in a golden toga? Check. Arnold’s disembodied head? Check. I believe that’s called the Japanese Ad Trifecta.

7. Natalie Portman for Lux

The only female star on the list, Portman pulls up on a motorcycle as she’s late for her...fencing audition? But her hair is stupendous, so she makes the fencing team, or something.

6. Sylvester Stallone for Bayern

Stallone is playing golf, but suddenly he brandishes a sausage on a fork. Oh, I get it! Links at the links. But, wait, did he have eating utensils, sausage and some sort of cooking implement stored in his golf bag?

5. Michael J. Fox for...another mystery beverage

Yet another nonsensical ad for liquid excitement that makes one engage in kooky activities that in no way inform anyone about the specifics of said drink. Pay special attention at the :22 mark for a trademark Michael J. Fox moment.

4. Bruce Willis for Eneos

Willis dons an old timey pajama hat in what appears to be an ad for either a credit card company or rotary phones. Or alien stun guns. Definitely one of those three.

3. Hulk Hogan for BigFlow

I honestly have no idea what's going on here. The Hulkster, in his wrestling onesies, serenades a baby about some sort of air-conditioning unit. You figure it out.

2. Nicolas Cage for Sankyo

Apparently when Nicolas Cage isn’t busy making movies (which is not very often), he spends his free time starring in commercials for something called Sankyo Pachinko. There was quite a stable to choose from, but we picked the two in which he acted the most Nicolas Cage-y.

1. John Travolta for Tokyo Drink

This one not only has a sweaty Travolta dance-lifting in a headband, but features a hyper-cheesy '80s jingle.

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Filed under: Ben Stiller • Brad Pitt • Celebrities • television • Tiger Woods

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Alex


    June 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. products made in america

    Great work! That is the kind of information that are supposed to be shared around the net. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this submit upper! Come on over and visit my website . Thanks =)

    June 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. korean

    Arnold's advertisement is in KOREAN.

    August 8, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  4. Maria

    In the Keanu commercial, isn't that Liv Tyler at 0:15?

    August 4, 2011 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. youtubelaffin

    one you forgot - charles bronson


    August 2, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. wraithzero

    the bruce willis for Eneos is some petroleum products company that makes synthetic oil comparable to royal purple and redline

    August 2, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. ingmar

    This is even funnier


    August 1, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan


    But not all of them are American, however. Michael J. Fox and Keanu Reeves are Canadian...

    August 1, 2011 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mahna Mahna

    As others have said - come on! How can you confuse Korea with China!?

    July 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. seriously?

    How does garbage like this get approved to be posted? While it is somewhat funny, there are so many misrepresentations and false statements. Instead of opening with "The Internet is undeniably making the world smaller." why not try "The Internet is undeniably making millennials less intelligent..."

    July 31, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Terriblearticlereviewer

    Yes, the Arnold commercial is korean. Why don't you verify the language content before you write these useless commentaries.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. TokyoM

    Except for the Natalie Portman CM, these ads are more than 5 years old!!!
    The BOSS coffee commercials that are on TV now starring Tommy Lee Jones are hilarious!!!

    July 31, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. NSAGuy

    Madonna has one where she slays a dragon in a kimono and gets a glowing orb.

    July 31, 2011 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
    • jujubeans

      Madonna has one where she sucks a dragon in a kimono and gets a thumb job.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Maurice

    These are the rich and even powerful pinnacle of human achievement in the capitalist world – a bunch of billboard freaks. They are a sad reminder of where a hedonistic world leads to – an insanely overabundance of wealth being concentrated into the hands of a bunch of Vaudvilliant bamboozlers.

    July 31, 2011 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. Frank

    the arnold commercial is in korean... get your asian languages right

    July 31, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  16. John Foster

    Arnold Schwarzenegger is Austrian.

    July 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  17. John Foster

    Keanu Reeves is not American. He is Canadian.

    July 30, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Doobiee

    These morons would never do an ad in the USA...

    July 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Michael

    The Nicholas Cage ones are my favorites. I'm surprised you didn't post the Simpsons' CC Lemon ads. "Gggouh!"

    July 30, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  20. Eric

    What about Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in the Calorie Mate commercials?

    July 30, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  21. ptsale

    I'm very glad to spend this weekend with you. Thank you.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  22. erich2112x

    At least they don't waste all that energy trying to hide the fact that they idolize Americans the way most countries are doing now.

    July 30, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  23. Blahblah

    How could you miss Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer for CalorieMate? Bizarre.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  24. Lillyann

    Actors do commercials in other countries for the major money. No shock that Nicholas Cage, Sylvester Stallone and Hulk Hogan are doing ads, since that's probably most of their income. Sad, that self-dignity is overlooked. . So, thanks, bad actors! lol

    Natalie Portman did some major bad acting in that shampoo commercial. Surprised she gets any movie work.

    I thought American commercials were bad until I saw those gems of bad acting.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  25. MH

    Chu-his are nothing like Four Loko! It's more like a vodka-fruit juice drink..... maybe the author would know this by simply googling it (obviously they didn't do their research). The US should start selling Chu-his. They are delicious, low calorie, and not too sweet. The rest of the world is missing out!

    July 30, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  26. Sybaris

    Yet another illustration of how the U.S. is essentially an island nation, ignorant and dangerously careless about happenings in other parts of the world.

    July 30, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      So sorry we don't keep up to speed on the commercials of all other countries around the world.

      We'll get right on that!

      July 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Lawrene

    These were older commercials. I like the Natalie Portman commercial which looks as though she was auditioning for a movie and got it because of the hair due to the shampoo. These are too silly except for Super Bowl.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Ita

    Sure, why not, they get paid millions just to be in commercials in other countries. An honest days work for a cool million, who wouldn't.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Lan

    we, LEVERAGE fans do think this could also be added.. just for laughs http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=HiDYEaiyoBA

    July 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Kelly

    Michael J Fox is selling cans of iced tea.

    There were great Arnold commercials from the late 80's and early 90's for Cup o Noodles, too. I believe he also sold energy drinks; there's a commercial where he's dressed as a schoolboy on a tricycle. . . .

    July 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  31. R

    What about Bill Murray and scotch? Oh. Wait. That was in a movie.

    July 29, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Dan

    You missed Tommy Lee Jones for Black Boss canned coffee.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  33. hungryhungryhippo

    Cracked.com did an article a lot like this ages ago...

    July 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  34. bluedogboy

    The best commercial is the one for the energy drink starring Vincent Chase.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  35. remy730

    Not a big celebrity but, the commercials with bob sapp are pretty silly, especially the pizza one.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  36. annie

    I love the Brad Pitt one. Who cares if he works in no office. He was, is and always will be something to watch. Bring that ad here to the U.S. Like most ads I look at them for whether you want to record and rewatch it, not for the product and he is definitely worth recording and rewatching whether in an ad or in a movie, just like Angelina is too.

    July 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Damian

    Arnold Schwarzenegger ad is in KOREAN. Get it right!

    July 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  38. T

    Nutty and funny !
    Like the one with Bruce Willis !

    July 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Tob

    What's funny about Brad Pitt working in some office? I don't get a joke here!

    July 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Avery

    i think for the portman one she tries out for a movie where you have to swordfight not for a fencing team.

    July 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Stupendous

    KISS also did one, probably for a drink as well.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |

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