Most TV commercials in Japan aim for either happy and upbeat, dramatic and sophisticated, or sad and poignant (usually charities and PSAs). One recent series of ads, however, advising people to get their cholesterol levels checked for possible arteriosclerosis, has chosen a surprisingly different approach.
Start off with a with a basic variety show format, complete with studio audience and costumed characters (representing high-density “good” cholesterol and low-density “bad” cholesterol), with the host cheerfully educating everyone about cholesterol and its effects…
… then, just as the host mentions that “there are no outward symptoms [of arteriosclerosis], so even if you feel all right…” randomly have someone on the set keel over from a heart attack.
There are a set of five ads, produced by pharmaceutical companies Shionogi and Astra-Zeneca, each one ending with a different heart attack victim.
Ending on a shot from the victim’s viewpoint as their vision blurs out and fades to black is an exceptionally morbid touch.
It’s very rare to see ads (or even regular programming) here take such a dark turn, so I commend the producers for their willingness to go with something so different.
The first one of these I saw was the last one in the video above, in which the viewer at home is the one dying. The surprise ending shocked the hell out of me and actually left me feeling rather shaken for some time afterward. It definitely got me thinking about my cholesterol levels, so I guess it did its job.