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This Controversial Advert for a Translation Device Is Causing Internet Outrage

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Here at translate plus, there are a few topics we just can’t get enough of – translation technology, video content and marketing blunders, for example. So you can imagine our reaction when we came across a controversial advert that combines all of those things and causes internet outrage in one glorious effort!

Introducing Ili, the wearable translator brought to you by Japanese firm Logbar. But, more than the device itself, we want to show you the incredibly creepy video this innovative company deemed suitable to market a pretty exciting product.

‘The most cringeworthy video possible’

Japanese company creates innovative new translation product. Decides to market it using the most cringeworthy video possible.

Posted by GaijinPot on Wednesday, 6 January 2016

That’s not a bad way to describe the video and it’s certainly one of the more polite ways it’s been put, after more than 5.3 million views and over 86,000 shares. But we’ll let you decide for yourself, so go ahead and give it a watch if you haven’t already.

Here are some reactions from Facebook – it wasn’t easy to find comments that didn’t need some censoring!

“Could’ve picked a better way to advertise other than using a Caucasian guy being a creep to Asian girls.” – Devy Barnes

“So let me get this straight. A Japanese company makes this device, and gets a foreigner to play the role of a harassing creep to market it for them, to sell these NOT to the Japanese market but to the international market” – Marek Okon

“Why is he surprised that most of the girls think he’s a rapist? This is clearly sexual harassment.” – Hilary Hanses

“Seems like a cool product but come on now! How uncomfortable for those women, being put on the spot like that, gross and weird and creepy and perverted, need I go on???!!!” – Susan Simmons

Exciting product vs marketing blunder

Here at translate plus, we know a thing or two about translation services and how to market a product to overseas audiences. This is precisely what makes the video so fascinating to us. Our favourite line from the video has to be:


Dean: It’s very normal in the UK.

Japanese woman: No! This is Japan, Japan, Japan.


First of all, we’re not sure it’s so common in the UK to approach women you’ve never met before, poke a strange device in their face and demand a kiss. But the Japanese woman’s response nicely sums up how far off the mark these guys were in their market research when they came up with the concept for this ad.

An update to the video’s YouTube description tells us that, “In light of viewer feedback, we would like to clarify that the women in this video are all actresses; no one was forced to act against their will in any way”.

That certainly makes the video a little bit less disturbing (if it is true), but the “viewer feedback” that prompted this statement only goes to show how well you need to understand your audience. Countless viewers comment on how impressive the product itself is, but not without criticising the advertisement that comes with it – and many people are outright disgusted.

With so many talking points surrounding this video, it’s easy to see why it caused such a fuss with online audiences. That could be the silver lining for Logbar, if there is one at all. Good or bad, its advertisement has prompted thousands of comments in a matter of weeks, and we’ll be very curious to see some sales figures for the Ili translator, to see if there really is no such thing as bad press.

Localisation of all products and services is such an important thing to keep in mind, and this video shows how you need to make sure that you’re creating content tailored to your target market – unless, of course, you purposely want to attract attention for the wrong reasons!

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