You’re not the only one who does a double-take at those over-tanned Japanese ladies with the blonde ringlets; advertisers are giving the gyaru a close second look, too.
Gyaru (and their various sub-genres – in parau dresses, in altered school uniforms and loose socks, in white eyeliner that approached blackface . . . ) started grabbing headlines in the mid-’90s and were a staple of “wide” talk shows and weekly magazines.
While the media spotlight might have dimmed, gyaru haven’t exactly faded into the background. In fact, they’ve become a formidable economic force, with their own magazines, cosmetic lines and fashion brands dedicated to their flashy sense of style and their embrace of all things cute and sparkly.
They’ve also had kids, and advertisers aren’t passing up the chance to reach out to growing gyaru families. The gyaru are now getting the CM treatment with a TV commercial aimed right at them. Ajinomoto has teamed up with “I LOVE mama” magazine to promote a cooking site for mobile phones called “mama gohan” (mama’s meals). Ajinomoto is a century-old company whose core product is bottled MSG, a Japanese kitchen staple that you have probably at some point mistaken for the salt shaker. The magazine is a lifestlye magazine for gyaru who are mothers. The keitai site has recipes as well as solutions to cooking problems. The commercial itself celebrates cooking as a way to connect the gyaru of Japan and intersperses zoomy shots of healthy meals with wide-eyed young mothers, in huge bow headbands, flashing peace signs against blindingly pink backdrops. The site promises to help add cuteness to every bento for the kiddies and to make every meal more adorable.
According to the press release, since mama gohan went live in April, the site has had hundreds of thousands of page views and lots of recipes uploaded by members. It’s all well and good to cut carrots into cute shapes and stick smiley faces in the rice, but we’d love to know if it explains how to handle kitchen implements with those long, appliqued gel nails.