Mao Asada was a phenomenon last winter, coming from relative obscurity to win the ISU (International Skating Union) Grand Prix Final. However, despite being the best on the adult circuit the ISU rules said she was too young (15 years old at the time) to compete at the Olympics, robbing her of the chance of glory in Turin. With such a sudden rise to fame it is no surprise to see Asada doing endorsements in the media. Nevertheless, what is most interesting about her latest television commercial, for the new Olympus digital camera μ, is the music. Figure skaters, banned in competition from using anything with lyrics, generally do not use modern pop music, which makes the juxtaposition of Asada with the music of punk band the Blue Hearts a very interesting marketing strategy.
The Blue Hearts are the iconic Japanese punk rock band. From their initial rise to stardom in 1987 they were ground breakers and trend setters in a previously next-to- non-existent genre in Japanese music. Even after their sudden break up in 1995 they continue to be a dominate force in Japanese rock music, their influence showing through in the music of many younger bands such as GAGAGA SP.
Olympus have also been very deliberate in their choice of song to promote their latest digital cameras. Linda Linda was the song that propelled them into the big time in back in 1987 and remains their signature track. Nevertheless, this track is not just an old favourite, but one whose stature in Japanese pop culture continues to grow; It was used in the 2004 hit drama Sekai no Chuushin de, Ai wo Sakebu (Crying Out Love In The Center Of The World), as well as being the source for the title of the 2005 movie Linda Linda Linda which also featured the Blue Hearts’ music.
That a whole generation has grown up listening to the Blue Hearts is not something that has been missed by Olympus. If the target market is men in their 20s and 30s then the combination of the young skating star Mao Asada with the music of the Blue Hearts is a sure way of getting their attention. You can watch the promotional video below in Quicktime, or there is a windows media format available here if you are so inclined.
QuickTime is required for this video.