For the past 15 to 20 years, there’s been a long-running infomercial in America for the “Magic Bullet” blender. It plays all the time, particularly late at night, so if you’re a night person you probably have fond memories of this commercial. I certainly do, anyway.
Anyway, I’ve been watching Japanese infomercials a lot lately, and realized that the Magic Bullet informercial played all the time in Japan too – it’s even got a weird fan following just like we have here! So I thought I’d take a look at both versions of the commercials to see what changed during the localization process into Japanese.
First, here are both versions of the Magic Bullet infomercial. Note that the American one is a little glitchy at first but only for the first 20 seconds or so.
I’ve never compared infomercials before, so I’m not sure how to do it here. The biggest, most obvious difference involves the different food showcased in each video, so let’s focus on that.
The American version of the Magic Bullet infomercial goes very heavy on the idea that it can make party foods, snacks, desserts, and drinks. It cuts between two main things: the narrator listing some foods that you can make, and the party hosts showing off food you can make. By the end you’re probably hungry and want to shove food into your mouth.
Here are some highlights, most of which aren’t found in the Japanese version:
Right off the bat, we can tell that the Japanese version of the Magic Bullet infomercial cuts out almost all the unhealthy food from the American commercial – which is most of it. As a result, most of the party host section is cut too.
Healthy, Japanese-style foods were inserted into the infomercial in place of the American junk food, which is completely understandable – things like quesadillas and nachos aren’t exactly common household foods in Japan, after all.
These new Japanese foods use new footage and writing to replace the existing narrator stuff. New music was added, graphs and charts were added, and new detailed ordering instructions for Grandma were included. The remaining party host sections were dubbed into Japanese, which is a delight to hear. I love Japanese dubs of foreign infomercials – they add a whole new dimension of entertainment.
Anyway, here are some highlights from the Japanese infomercial, most of which aren’t found in the American version:
From all this, we can clearly see that the Magic Bullet is marketed in a different way in Japan.
Also, on top of this long infomercial, the Japanese company behind the Magic Bullet has produced some of its own promotional videos. They’re not very interesting, but here’s an example involving a Japanese family:
If you aren’t used to the Japanese infomercial “vibe”, you might even mistake this for an actual TV show!
Not everything was changed for the main Japanese infomercial, though. Some of the original American foods stayed, including:
- Mixed berry smoothies
- Fresh coffee
- Chocolate-chocolate chip peppermint shake
- Fruit & vegetable juice
- Pesto sauce
- Alfredo sauce
- Fresh sorbet
Most of these foods are pretty healthy or refreshing, which is probably why they were left in the Japanese version. I’m surprised the chocolate shake stayed in, though. And for the vegetable juice one, they even dubbed the line about tricking kids!
Going into this comparison, I didn’t really know what to expect. But it’s clear that a lot of time and effort was put into transforming the Magic Bullet infomercial into something palatable for Japanese audiences. I would’ve loved to see how all these changes were decided and how the new content was created. I never really thought much about how products like this have to be marketed in different ways for different countries, so I feel like I’ve learned some new things – hopefully you have too.
I’m still not very interested in the product itself, though. I guess I’m not in the target audience in either country.
This was a strange article, so if you liked it, here's another strange one I wrote - and it even features more Japanese commercials!