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There are two kinds of artists left: those who endorse Pepsi and those who simply won't.
To be perfectly honest, what I'm really thinking about are dollar signs.
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the trouble is I don't know which half.
back when the names of things
hadn't had time to stick
Rita Dove, Testimonial
when I'm watchin' my tv
and that man comes on to tell me
how white my shirts can be
Rolling Stones, Satisfaction
I was surprised - of course I shouldn't have been - to notice deliberate product placement in an anime animated cartoon. You don't even need to film or photograph a real product. You can just draw one.
Japanese people don't seem to mind overt commercial sponsorship. Many of the professional baseball teams - like the Chunichi Dragons or the Seibu Lions - are known by their sponsor's name, not their city's name. Some commercials using Hollywood stars were so bad that they were not allowed to be shown outside Japan.
Today I am going to give my own endorsements. But they are real. Not for the products - the quality of Japanese products is usually excellent. But for really great service.
I have a pen that was owned by my first aikido teacher. His wife gave it to me with some personal things of his after he died. I use it every day. It's about thirty years old. It is a ballpoint pen with two colours, black and red, and it also has a mechanical pencil. It's called a Pilot 2+1.
Recently the mechanical pencil part (called a sharp pen in Japanese - see my W + aikibunnies blog article) wasn't working so I left it at a stationery store to see if it could be repaired. The store sent the pen off to Pilot. A week or two later I got a call that the pen was ready. I picked it up. The mechanical pencil had been repaired. The pen had been cleaned and polished and looked like new. They had also put in a new eraser. The store clerk said there was no charge. Thank you, Pilot. The next time I buy a pen it will be a Pilot pen. Of course at this rate that might not be for a very long time.
I've had similar experiences before in Japan. I have an old Seiko watch. It's a very good watch and it has always kept perfect time. Almost to the second. Then a while ago one of the numerals fell off the face and was moving freely around inside the glass. Seiko repaired the watch face and serviced it and cleaned it free of charge. Not only that they apologized to me for my trouble and told me that it wasn't supposed to happen on a Seiko watch. This is on a twenty year old watch. Thank you, Seiko.
One more thing about the Pilot pen. Something about that pen is mysterious. If you look at the red mark and push the button the red ballpoint pen comes out. If you look at the black mark and push the button the black ballpoint pen comes out. And if you look at the pencil mark the mechanical pencil comes out. That's all cool. But how does the pen know which mark I am looking at?!