Optus pulls Australian commercial from YouTube following complaints from Japan

Telecommunications company slammed for using Japanese culture to promote a Samsung product from South Korea.

In Australia, Optus is the second largest telecommunications company in the country, with thousands of customers signed up to their network of phone, mobile phone, Internet, and cable television services.

While they’re well-known in Australia, Optus is yet to make a name for itself abroad — that is until a few days ago, when the company made news in Japan for a controversial commercial that left locals fuming.

The ad, which was broadcast nationally on Free-to-Air TV in Australia throughout May, was one of four commercials in a “Choose Smarter” ad campaign designed to encourage mobile phone users to purchase the Galaxy S10 from Optus.

Called “Wasabi“, the ad shows two Caucasian women sitting at a table in a Japanese restaurant, with the Japanese national anthem playing in the background as the older woman says, “This place is amazing. You been here much?” The younger woman replies with: “Many times. I love Japanese food. Especially the way they do the avocado.”

Optus quietly pulls Australian ad from YouTube after backlash from Japanese viewers. https://t.co/YRPjy15eUz


Oona McGee 🇯🇵🇮🇪🇦🇺 (@OonaMcGee) June 20, 2019

The ad was titled “Wasabi”. https://t.co/uN0uZle9LQ


Oona McGee 🇯🇵🇮🇪🇦🇺 (@OonaMcGee) June 20, 2019

At this point, the younger woman dips her chopsticks into a mound of wasabi–which she believes to be avocado–and puts a large serving of it into her mouth. With her mouth full of wasabi, her face contorts in pain and confusion as the voice-over kicks in with “Don’t follow a smart choice with a sloppy one.”

“Don’t follow a smart choice with a sloppy one.” https://t.co/D66AQSK5Gd


Oona McGee 🇯🇵🇮🇪🇦🇺 (@OonaMcGee) June 20, 2019

The ad then cuts to an image of the Samsung Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy Tab A 8.0, as the voice-over concludes with “When you choose the Samsung Galaxy S10, choose Optus.

Ad was pulled from YouTube today following complaints from Japan. https://t.co/yuYxdoBkXn


Oona McGee 🇯🇵🇮🇪🇦🇺 (@OonaMcGee) June 20, 2019

The 15-second commercial was uploaded to the official Optus YouTube channel on 16 April, where it remained until today, when it mysteriously disappeared after dozens of angry comments from Japanese viewers started appearing in the comments section.

People in Japan were upset to see Japanese culture being used to promote South Korean company Samsung, leaving comments like:

“Using Japanese culture to promote a South Korean brand? What were they thinking?”
“This is deceiving the public into thinking Samsung is a Japanese product.”
“A South Korean product impersonating itself as Japanese?”
“Even with the Japanese national anthem playing in the background…this made me feel nauseous.”
“I’m sure even Korean people would be upset at the cultural misrepresentation.”
“Riding on the coattails

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