The Trials of Alien Jones
Its pretty common knowledge by now I imagine, that Japan is positively teeming with vending machines that loiter benignly on street corners, their LEDs blinking in a friendly sort of manner, drawing your attention so that they might tempt you with a refreshing can of Calpis, Milk Tea, Pocari Sweat, or, if you’re really lucky and find one of the shady looking ones that serve alcohol; A Strong Zero.
On this particular occasion – a sunny day near the Matsugasaki sports complex in the Sakyō 左京 ward of Kyoto 京都 – It wasn’t the chilled liquid wares, that drew me hence, but the advert slathered across the front of one of the softly thrumming machines. Tommy Lee Jones it turns out, is rather big in Japan, following through, in reality, the fictional path set by Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, in being the prominent Western face of a Japanese beverage, although in this case, substituting Murray’s whisky for ice cold coffee under the famous BOSS brand1.
For this long running campaign, known as ‘Alien Jones Investigates Earth 宇宙人ジョーンズの地球調査シリ Tommy stars as the titular extraterrestrial, and visits our planet in order to experience typical everyday life, which he accomplishes through working a series of menial jobs, whilst wearing expressions ranging on a spectrum from ‘neutral’ through to ‘morose’, before gaining the respect and admiration of his colleagues, by employing his superalien abilites to complete his tasks with maximum efficiency, and getting to enjoy a cool can of BOSS coffee (usually the Rainbow blend variety) at the end of a hard day’s work.
This series has been running for over a decade at this point, with well over 30 tv ads – here’s a YouTube video with 9 minutes worth of them. “For overly-sweet caffeinated times…”
- In an interesting coincidence, both the whisky Murray was peddling, and BOSS coffee are both owned by the same conglomorate – Suntory (For relaxing times…)