An ad campaign conveying a confusing message about rejecting the “Age of Women” has sparked debate and controversy in Japan.
Released by jointly-owned Japanese department store chains Seibu and Sogo just before New Year’s day, the ad features actress Sakura Ando being determined and hopeful about the future.
According to Soranews24, the video starts off with the actress asking: “We don’t need an Age of Women, do we?”
Ando is then shown striding away while plates of whipped cream start flying toward her but failed to hit her.
“Being forced to do something because you’re a woman,” she spoke on as the plates whiz past her. “Being ignored because you’re a woman. Being marked down because you’re a woman. Having the news talk about how difficult it is to live as a woman. Every time those things happen, the ‘Age of Women’ gets pushed farther away.”
Suddenly, a plate of cream lands straight on her face.
“This year, finally, things are going to change!” the narration continues. “Really? Can we count on that happening? ‘Be active! Forge ahead!’ If you’re going to keep crowing about the ‘Age of Women,’ then we think it’s fine if it never comes.”
Ando is shown seemingly enjoying the cream, smiling as she wipes it all over her face and hair.
“At the center of this age, there are neither men nor women. I want to praise myself for being me. The age that should be coming, the age that we all make for ourselves, is the ‘Age of Me.’”
In the end, Ando coughs up the cream from her mouth before asking the camera: “Don’t you get excited just thinking about it?”
She then dramatically wiped the cream from her eyes and delivered the tagline for the ad: “I am me.”
The ad’s message which proclaimed that “Age of Women,” a common rallying cry for greater opportunities for women, is unnecessary, has confused many as it also criticized the societal attitudes that prohibit it from happening.
“I guess they were going for some sort of deep message, but it hasn’t reached me at all,” wrote a commenter.
The sudden shift in focus to rely mainly on a personal vision of fulfillment sans gender roles also baffled some.
“This ad makes me feel very uncomfortable,” one netizen wrote.
“The whole thing is just vague and gross,” said another.
Others were also dumbfounded with the significance of the plates of cream being tossed at the actress.
“I can’t imagine what they were trying to accomplish with those visuals,” said a commenter.
“It’s weird how she’s just standing there and taking it,” another chimed in.
Meanwhile, there are also those who found the ad commendable with its message of finding one’s individual happiness and fulfillment. For some, the flying plates of cream are visual metaphors for the life challenges we experience in our lives. Ando, who kept moving forward regardless of these challenges, is seen by some as an example of strength and beauty defying the odds.
“She’s showing that she won’t be beaten by the dumb things that happen in society, and smiling bravely, showing how tough she is,” one netizen pointed out.
“I love ads like this, where you have to pay attention until the very end to get the complete message,” another shared.
Featured image via YouTube / 西武・そごう チャンネル