Lunch in Translation: I Just Called to Shill for Coffee

This one is tough for me.  Making fun of Stevie Wonder gives me no pleasure.  He’s a certifiable genius and was the most vital and important factor in music during the first half of the 1970s.  Talking Book and Innervisions represent the fifth greatest back-to-back album combination of the rock & roll era. But I must do what I must do.

Here’s the man who wrote “Superstition” and “Living for the City”… in a terrible Japanese commercial for coffee.  Excuse me while I pound my head against the wall.

Full critique, and the final verdict on how big a sell-out this ad is…after the jump.

Cheese Factor: This is really embarrassing.  Maybe not “I Just Called to Say I Love You” embarrassing, but pretty bad.  When it came to missteps in his music career, there was nobody to blame but Stevie. But with television being a — how do I put this delicately? — visual medium, let’s just say that his handlers didn’t do him any favors by neglecting to tell him that he looks like a total smacked ass in this commercial.  Good help is hard to find, I suppose.

Foodstuffs: There’s no indication of the actual product other than the gratuitous giggling young women (par for the course in any Japanese television production, as you probably know from Iron Chef) who are drinking what is apparently an iced coffee beverage.  It looks like they’re enjoying it, but the commercial is much more about selling an upbeat, party atmosphere.  Those crazy Japanese people!  What kind of wacky culture would fall for marketing focused on lifestyle over the flavor of the coffee?!?

Sell-Out-O-Meter: The 1980s weren’t kind to Mr. Wonder when it came to preserving the integrity of his creative heyday, so it’s not exactly going out on a limb to call it a sell-out.  Maybe I should just put up a number, plug in my headphones, flip to “Superwoman” and try to forget ever seeing this shit-tastic commercial.

Lunch in Translation’s Official Orson Welles Sell-Out-O-Meter (out of a possible 5.0) says:  4.35


– Previously on Lunch in Translation: Sell It Like Beckham

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One comment

  • BS June 12, 2009  

    Wow, Stevie. Just wow.

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