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Summary:

Forget financial metrics and economies of scale. If Softbank succeeds in taking over Sprint this year, we just want to see one thing: Softbank’s bizarre but highly entertaining TV advertising on U.S. screens.

Otosan, SoftBank Mobile's popular TV mascot in Japan

Who cares about the financial or competitive merits of the Sprint-Softbank merger? We just want the deal to go through so that Softbank can bring its brilliant, yet bizarre, TV advertising to the U.S. No offense, Dan Hesse — we like your commercials, but you’re no Otosan.

For those of you unfamiliar with Softbank’s massively successful advertising campaign in Japan, Otosan is the canine patriarch of the (human) Shirato family, which also includes Japanese wife Masako, Japanese daughter Aya and African-American son Kojiro. Trust me, it gets even weirder.

Here’s a typical Softbank commercial in which Otosan attends his high-school reunion:

And here’s another, advertising the iPhone:

Despite the success of the Shirato campaign, Softbank has branched out into other equally bizarre but compelling advertising themes. It’s hired Brad Pitt (who can afford Brad Pitt?) as well as film auteurs Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze and Wong Kar-wai to do a series of brand promotion commercials.

Here’s Wes Anderson’s collaboration with Pitt:

And here’s Spike Jonze’s contribution:

But it all comes back to Otosan. Here’s a fun experiment. Try watching this popular ad featuring the Shirato family and Tommy Lee Jones without the subtitles.

Confused? Now try watching with the subtitles. It makes even less sense (unless you happen to be familiar with Jones’ work as a spokesman for Japanese coffee brand Suntory Boss).

  1. Otosan means Dad. Ur saying hesse isnt a dad?

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    1. No he’s saying Hesse isn’t DAD. Certainly he’s A DAD but not DAD. If you want to play with semantics, get it correctly.

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  2. Vittorio Alfieri Sunday, January 20, 2013

    Hilarious!!!

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  3. William Diaz ✔ Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    I gotta say, not a single one of these I liked. I hope the advertising for Sprint goes back to the Sprint Guy commercials, or the “Now Network” type ones with “Here’s whats happening now..”

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