Godzilla is recognized around the world as the most iconic Japanese character ever created. Even people who have never even seen one of Godzilla's roughly 30 movies, know who he is and what he looks like. Godzilla is a giant monster with giant appeal. So of course, just like Star Wars, marketing and advertising companies around the world try their damndest to slap the big G onto their products and TV commercials. However, if you don't ask the company who owns the rights to Godzilla, TOHO, for permission to use him commercially... you can expect a visit from their relentless lawyers.
Big companies like Subway learned that lesson the hard way after using a giant green lizard monster in their 2008 '$5 Footlong' TV ad, resulting in a $150,000 lawsuit. Although, there are rare occasions when TOHO actually works together with foreign companies to produce officially licensed Godzilla TV commercials. Such was the case for this awesome Nike commercial from 1992, in which TOHO gave the rights for Industrial Light & Magic (the special effects team behind Star Wars) to produce it's own version of Godzilla to go one on one against NBA superstar... Charles Barkley.
For more info, check out 'The Making of Godzilla vs Barkley'.
Last year we got a fun new officially licensed Godzilla commercial, this time advertising everyone's favorite candy bar, Snickers.
But that wasn't Godzilla's first try at helping to sell sugary junk food to Americans. Nearly 30 years before, in 1985, he was promoting Dr. Pepper in these two classic kaiju styled commercials.
Another 'sweet' TV ad not made in Japan featuring Godzilla comes to us from Dutch candy makers, VENCO. I'm not entirely sure if this commercial was given the OK by TOHO, but it's pretty damned funny.
Next up we have a "Godzilla" TV ad from Thailand... well, it's technically not Godzilla, even though I'm fairly sure they are using the exact same Godzilla suit that was used in Godzilla vs Barkley. It's a Thai gas company ad that obviously didn't ask TOHO for any type of official approval, which is why Godzilla appears to have grown a horn on his snout... but whatever, it still counts.
Back in 1984, TOHO had just relaunched their Godzilla franchise and were busy promoting the big G wherever they could. In order to appeal to the adult audiences who had grown up watching Godzilla as kids in the 1950's-1970's, TOHO collaborated with the Asahi beer company to create a couple of family friendly beer commercials. While they aren't wild and wacky like the commercials above, the somberness portrayed by Godzilla as he stares into the distance holding a giant glass of beer is just strangely beautiful...
...I could use a beer that big too...
Being a lot more wacky this time around, Japanese electronic company Hitachi used Godzilla to advertise their state of the art home karaoke system back in the early 90's. Even though karaoke is as normal in Japan as anything else, I'm not sure if it did very well, but this particular ad is one of the big G's most entertaining. Enjoy!
UPDATE July 23, 2016:
With the brand new Godzilla Resurgence (シン-ゴジラ）coming out in less than a week over here in Japan, I will be adding brand new Godzilla TV ads to this article. You can also expect a review of the film opening night ;)
First up, a TV spot for the Japanese department store, PARCO. The footage from this ad is taken taken directly from the new film itself, however some sequences have replaced Godzilla with a CG koala bear, whom is the current mascot for PARCO stores, and made it appear as if it and Godzilla are gearing up for battle.
And here is a TV spot for the 'Shin-chan vs Shin-Gojira' episode of the animated series Crayon Shin-chan. The full episode aired last night here and it was pretty cool to see the new incarnation of Godzilla in animated form. It was a fun episode full of the kinds of gags you would normally expect from the long running Crayon Shin-chan series. I'm a fan of both Godzilla and Shin-chan, so I really enjoyed the episode, as did my kids. I tried finding the full episode online today but they had all been taken down by TV Asahi, so until that becomes widely available, enjoy the teaser TV spot below this promo image :)
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