Globalisation, Corporate Nationalism and Orientalism: Negotiating Japanese Identity between the East and West within Asics Global Advertising Production

This paper explores the link between globalisation, corporate nationalism and Orientalism by examining the context of global advertising production. More specifically, the analysis focuses on the notion of ‘self-Orientalisation’ (Dirlik, 1996; Iwabuchi, 1994) as represented by a Japanese sporting goods company Asics within its ‘Made of Japan’ campaigns for the Onitsuka Tiger brand. In these campaigns, Japanese identity was re-imagined, branded and represented by Asics’ Western partners for advertising to capitalise on the Western desire to consume ‘Cool Japan’ (Allison, 2009; Condry, 2009; Iwabuchi, 2008). In turn, the paper challenges the binary view of the Orient and the Occident by illustrating the reciprocity, complexities and negotiations between Japanese and Western advertising cultural intermediaries. The analysis employed a multi-method approach including interviews with advertising personnel in Japan and Europe to examine: (a) Asics’ process of self-Orientalisation which involves intense negotiations and power relations between Japan and Europe; and, (b) an ambivalent sense of Japan as ‘the Self’ and ‘the Other’ as represented by the Western cultural intermediaries.