Beer campaign stirs up the ire of working wives

October 15th, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

The nostalgic ad campaign for Suntory’s hugely popular drink Kin Mugi has proved a hit with middle-aged men who are pining for the simple charms of yesteryear. The campaign depicts a smiling wife played by actress Rei Dan who, while waiting for her husband to return home from work to down a few refreshing glasses of beer-like Kin Mugi, passes the time by enjoying fireworks, running through clouds of cherry blossoms and posing cutely in a yukata. Though men are lapping up the nostalgic picture of the carefree, stay-at-home cutie, some women of the same generation find the whole thing deeply offensive.

“Every time I watch that actress playing the wife wait for her husband to return from work with a big smile on her face, I get the sense that something’s deeply wrong with this picture. If I think about that carefree spoilt woman, I get really irritated. These days households that can survive on only a husband’s salary are in the minority,” a woman in her 40s wrote earlier in the year in Tokyo Shimbun newspaper. She’s not the only one, journalist Yuzumi Yamashita raised the issue again in an article written on Oct. 3 in News Post Seven. Yamashita writes that she’s heard the same opinion from other people and that economic realities these days mean that it’s typical for Japanese wives to take a job.

The (what seemed to be mostly male) response to the article on 2ch News ranged from the juvenile: “You’re just jealous,” to the more reasoned, “If women read young boy’s manga it seems odd to them, if men read young girl’s manga it seems odd to them. That’s all there is to it.”

Personally, I have to doubt a scenario in which men who are drinking cheap beer substitutes (called dai san in Japan) are able to afford the luxury of having a stay-at-home wife. What do you think? Does this advert raise your hackles or make you go all warm and fuzzy?

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4 Responses

  1. Japan continues to promote the fact that it has the largest middle class in the world, but as the women who despise this commercial rightly point out, the stark reality is far from it. It’s little wonder that the birth rate in this country is falling, for husbands and wives simply don’t have the time (nor funds) to raise a large family.

  2. On the contrary, many of the SAHWs that I know are incredibly frugal, and only allow their hardworking hubbies to drink “real” beer on special occasions. Tying up the image of that yucky fake stuff with a smiling, happy wife is clever marketing, I think.

  3. The point of most commercial advertising, of course, is escapist fantasy that creates a scenario in which the product can be visualized at its most appealing. A more realistic approach (Hubby comes home to an empty house, note on the table, “Leftovers in the fridge. Sorry about the cheap beer–it’s all we can afford this month”, hubby opens the fridge, sighs, sticks his meal in the microwave, plops down at the kitchen table to wait, and pops open a Kirin Mugi) might be seen as charmingly quirky, but it wouldn’t do much for the brand image.

  4. It stands out so much because every other commercial in Japan is like a documentary film of everyday life.


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