Not everyone loves Japanese TV, but we have to admit that one thing it has going for it is absolutely bonkers commercials. You can find weird, unsettling, funny, emotional, or even just hilarious commercials the world over, but it sometimes seems that Japan has a particularly high concentration of them. Maybe there’s something in the coffee…
And speaking of coffee, Japanese coffee brand Blendy has produced one of the most bizarre commercials we’ve seen to date, mixing absurdist comedy with unsettling, dark undertones. Oh, and milk. Lots and lots of milk.
The commercial, which shows a graduating high school class, apparently first aired last winter, but has been popping up online again—and getting a great deal of attention—this week. In case you’re still completely baffled by what you’ve just watched, let us break it down for you.
The short story starts off with the unexpected shot of a group of students sitting in their uniforms with bull rings through their noses. But this is not, sadly, a school that has embraced body modification, but rather something entirely…different. It turns out these students are actually…bovine?!
▼ “Moooove it along, buddy!”
The commercial and the subtitles are full of jokes, including some that walk up to the border of “good taste” and then just fling themselves over it as hard as they can.
But what we love most about the ad is how it subverts the recent surge in emotional (dare we say, emotionally manipulative) commercials, taking what would be another trite but touching take on graduation and turning it into a dark metaphor for…milk in coffee. Okay, maybe it’s not as brilliant as we might like to imagine, but seeing the cows/students find out where they’re headed after graduation is both amusing and kind of disturbing all at once.
▼ Wait…what do the bulls do on the farm? (Or are they steers?)
▼ Hey, a zoo! That’s not a bad place to be a cow.
▼ Okay, that got dark pretty quickly…
▼ Holy crap, that got really dark!
▼ 卒業 (sotsugyou) is “graduation,” but they’ve replaced gyou 業 with 牛 (gyu), or beef.
But what commercial is complete with a child seeking comfort from a parent? It looks like our protagonist didn’t react well to her teacher telling her she was just “skim” material, which everyone knows isn’t really milk but water with white food coloring!
▼ Fortunately, mother has some…uh…advice?
To be fair, “puff out that chest” can be entirely reasonable words of encouragement in both Japanese and English! But there’s a line between “subtle” double entendre and “smacking you in the face,” and these guys are definitely face-smackers.
▼ You know what, commercial? I do! Thanks!
And now we find out what this two-and-a-half minute commercial was really all about: Blendy bottled coffee! Wait, what?
▼ Is that zoo still taking applications?
▼ Is that…did he…but…ummm…WTF?!
Look, Blendy, we know having eye-catching advertising is important, but I’m not sure I’ll ever drink milk again after this. Let alone buy any coffee with milk from who-knows-where!
▼ But why is it so creamy?!
While we have to admit we laughed our collective tails off at this commercial, we also have to admit that we feel vaguely uncomfortable now and can’t really make eye-contact with each other. We just really hope this commercial doesn’t resurface and play during any family meals…