Japanese drinks corporations, most famously Suntory Whisky, are known for paying vast sums of cash to international superstars such as Harrison Ford to add a little glitz and glamour to their products by appearing in their TV commericals. The companies agree not to show the ads outside Japan, to avoid damaging the stars’ classy reputations by exposing them as shameless sell-outs.
However, when profits are low and booze companies and forced to make cutbacks, they have to hire the likes of Jan Michael Vincent instead, (who must have thought all his Christmases had come at once when Suntory waved the cash in front of his face. “Holy shit! Where do I sign?! Somebody get me a pen before they change their minds! Quick!” He probably sneaked a few of those bottles of whisky into his bag after filming when no-one was looking, too.)
In these times of global financial crisis, Screech from “Saved by the Bell” must be sitting by the phone just waiting for that call from Suntory Whisky.
Here are a selection Japanese booze ads featuring cut-price celebs who were probably pleased to get the call. I don’t blame them (hell, if anyone from Suntory wants to put me in a commercial, I’d be more than willing.) At least they actually need the money, unlike Harrison Ford.
Actually, I feel bad putting Phoebe Cates in there, since she looks phenomenal and I worshipped her as a kid, in Fast Times at Ridgemont high and Gremlins. I’m guessing the rights to the Elvis Presley song cost more than her fee, though!