03.24.09

12 Best Foreign Celebrity Ads

Celebrities don’t just make embarrassing ads in America when they want a quick payday. Some of the most shameless and surreal commercials come from overseas. Madonna selling sake? A naked Harrison Ford hawking a Japanese beer? And Snoop Dogg performing as a German folk singer? Watch the best of the worst.

Snoop Dogg Singing German…Ja Shizzle?

Why is Snoop Dogg coming out of a refrigerator dressed like German folk singer Roy Black? We don’t understand this 2008 German ad for VybeMobile, but it sure is catchy.

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Andy Warhol’s 30 Seconds of Japanese Fame

Is this performance art or a commercial? Unsurprisingly, Andy Warhol blurs the line in this 1982 Japanese ad for TDK.

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Material Girl Promotes Consumerism

This 1995 Japanese commercial for Takara sake features a kimono-clad Madonna wielding a sword and declaring—irony alert—“I’m pure.”

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Bonjour, Dalí!

When he wasn’t painting melting clocks, Salvador Dalí—really, Salvador Dalí—was getting paid to declare himself crazy for Lanvin chocolate, as he does in this 1968 French ad.

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Mr. Pitt Goes to Japan. Via France.

How’s this for a culture clash—a Japanese commercial, starring an American actor, based on a French film. This 2008 commercial for Softbank Mobile was directed by Wes Anderson ( The Royal Tenenbaums) and is modeled after the French film Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, but all you really need to know is that it stars Brad Pitt decked in head-to-toe yellow.

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Also, “Jolie” Means Pretty in French

Trust Angelina Jolie to demolish language barriers. She doesn’t say much in this 2008 commercial for Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido, but does she even need to?

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The Governor of California on Foreign Diplomacy

We can’t imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger was hurting for money when he did a psychedelic series of ads for a Japanese energy drink in the 1990s, so we’re simply going to assume he did it for the crazy costumes.

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Ben Stiller Shows Off Blue Steel

This Japanese ad for Kirin beer seems like something out of Tropic Thunder, Ben Stiller’s movie skewering Hollywood stereotypes, but it’s absolutely real, and absolutely surreal.

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We’re Shaken and Stirred When James Bond Shills For Yogurt

This Japanese commercial unfolds like a Kubrickian nightmare—why is Sean Connery driving through a psychedelic landscape with a creepy, animatronic rabbit? On the surface, it’s to endorse something called Biogurt, but we suspect more nefarious forces are at work here.

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A Whiskered Man Sells Whisky

Unlike the infamous Paul Masson brandy commercials in which Orson Welles was visibly inebriated in the outtakes, the Citizen Kane director doesn’t appear to have sampled the wares in this 1979 Japanese ad for G & G Whisky, but he doesn’t seem as at home in front of the lens as he was behind it, either.

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George Clooney’s Coffee Heist

We admit, this 2006 European commercial wouldn’t have made our list if it didn’t star George Clooney. As far as coffee commercials go, this one is pretty standard, really. But the actor best known as the star of the Ocean’s franchise is Nespresso’s ‘Global Ambassador.’ Beats the Dunkin’ Donuts guy any day.

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Indy Wouldn’t Approve

A sweaty, naked Harrison Ford selling Kirin beer in this 1990s Japanese ad does more to ruin the image of Indiana Jones than the latest entry to the movie franchise.

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