“Lost in Translation” was a wonderful movie by Sofia Coppola, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. It depicted the delicious confusion of Western tourists in total Japanese cultural emersion. In particular, the scenes where Bill Murray shoots a liquor commercial for the Japanese market are simply priceless. In retrospect, I see where Ms. Coppola got her ideas. Her cousin, Nicholas Cage, have been making wonderfully odd (to our sensibilities) commercials for years. He clearly had stories to share. Here are a few of his gems, courtesy the World Wide Web:
But it’s not only Japan that surprises our/my cultural biases. This morning, my husband and I went to a local grocery store in Rome, Italy. In the cheese section, there was a little paper bottle of parmesan cheese with a mouse of the package. The mouse didn’t work for me at all! So much for cultural differences.
Here’s a small collection of ads for McDonalds from all over the world. Please compare it to the packaging and menus for this restaurant chain that I’ve posted here in the past: “Cultural World Domination”.
Notice all of the anchoring errors, metaphor mistakes, cultural biases, mirroring errors, and general cognitive and cultural blindness. Also, it’s not just the geographic differences that lead to emotional dissonance, there are cultural changes in time (see the last commercial).