New Japanese commercial is weird on so many levels.

Swedish-born Greta Thunberg is one of the most recognisable faces on the planet, and while the 17-year-old is usually in the news for her climate change advocacy, in Japan she’s now making news for a very different reason.

Here in Japan, a Thunberg lookalike is currently being used to advertise a pachinko gambling chain in Shizuoka Prefecture. Thunberg might seem like an odd choice for such a promotion, but the connection between the two comes down to a pun involving the name of the pachinko chain, Concorde.

Take a look at the ad below:

The ad opens with a woman dressed in the same type of reddish blouse and blue jeans that Thunberg wore at the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit last year. The onscreen text beside her reads “フリーダ イェンセン”, which phonetically translates to the name “Furida Iensen”, which would be written as something like Frida Jönsson or Frida Jaensson in English.

This character of Frida, who’s said to be 29 years old, employs the same scowl that Thunberg used at the summit when scolding world leaders for ignoring climate change, saying:

“Our planet is screaming and all you can talk about is economic growth. We’re fed up. How dare you!”

The script takes its cues from Thunberg’s actual speech at the summit:

“We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

The woman in the commercial goes on to say:

“Have you taken a look at the soil? It’s always watching us. Soil is watching us from everywhere. Soil gives us life.”

Her demeanour then changes as she holds up a giant jar of soil.

“This is special soil we found through geological surveys. Soil for humanity. Soil of hope. Concor Soil.”

A Japanese man, perhaps meant to be the narrator or cameraman, interjects at this point, saying: “Huh? Sorry, what did you say?” She repeats, “Concor Soil” to which he says, “Concor?

▼ She clarifies the situation by saying, “Concor Tsuchi“, which means “Concor Soil” in Japanese.

This is where the pun that ties everything together comes in. Concorde is pronounced “Co-n-co-ru-do” in Japanese, and seeing as “do” is one way to read the character 土, which means soil, the company has decided to use this play on words to create something called “Concor soil”.

The paper-thin connection between Concorde pachinko, soil, climate change, and Greta Thunberg caused a stir online, with viewers leaving comments like:

“Making fun of Greta is such an unclassy thing to do. But what can you expect from a pachinko company?”
“Shizuoka has always produced sketchy commercials.”
“Watching this made me uncomfortable – companies shouldn’t ridicule children like this.”
“I guess this will be erased soon so I’m glad I got to watch it.”
“This video would be a hit abroad if it had English subtitles.”

The ad, which was uploaded to the Shizutetsu Ad Partners YouTube channel, appears to be clutching at straws, — plastic or otherwise — in an attempt to capitalise on Thunberg’s current fame.

We’ll have to wait and see if Thunberg will object to her likeness being used to promote gambling in Japan, an industry which, if recent figures are anything to go by, may well be heading for extinction in the future.

Source: Hachima Kiko
Featured image: YouTube/株式会社静鉄アド・パートナーズ
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