If you ever read MSN News in Japanese, which I do, you may be used to having to sift through commercials posing as editorial material. Or is it the other way around? Their summer campaign for hybrid cars takes the cake. Now, I enjoy reading about two girls driving from Asakusa, Tokyo, to Izu (and then apparently they will travel to Hokkaido) but shouldn't it be made much more clear that this is an ad?
The young girls pose in bikinis for both Toyota Prius and Honda CR-Z (from July 23) but from what I can gather, this is not really a MSN News segment. So what is it?
OK, it is very hot and maybe someone decided that this was the best they could do to combat global warming, let's get out of Tokyo, summer in the city, 2010-style ;)
Click on the image to enlarge
Sigh - have we learnt nothing since 1957, when Vance Packard published his book called The Hidden Persuaders, about how images were being manipulated in advertising to induce desire for products or ideas in a subliminal fashion... With chapters such as "Back to the Breast, and Beyond" and "Babes in Consumerland" the MSN Drive Report seems to confirm the claims made by Mr. Packard, more than half a century later.
More seriously, or at least more elequently, Philip Brazor at The Japan Times noted:
Last April, the government introduced tax cuts (genzei) and subsidies (hojokin) for purchases of "eco cars." Consumers who buy new electric, hybrid or clean diesel vehicles do not have to pay the automobile acquisition and weight taxes, and if they own a car that's more than 13 years old and scrap it when purchasing a new one that fits certain criteria, they receive a subsidy of either ¥125,000 or ¥250,000, depending on the type of car being scrapped.
The Japan Times: Tax cut to make fuel-efficient cars cheaper backfires due to loophole
In fact, Toyota was in deep trouble last year, not even breaking even, as they sold only 8,000 cars in Japan per month.
In the words of NHK World, "the financial crisis forced Toyota to slash its daily output to as low as 8,000 units in March last year . That's below the break-even quota of 12,000 cars a day. However, the [eco car] subsidies helped boost demand for the automaker's mainstay hybrid models."
NHK World: Toyota to cut output after eco-car subsidy expires
Ladies and gentlemen, things could get very serious for the world's largest automaker by the end of 2010 unless you all go out and follow the advice of the two bikini-clad girls in the MSN commercial.