An Unauthorized Japanese Star Wars Tuna Commercial from 1978

Out of the many upon many Star Wars commercials that exist online this is perhaps one of the strangest, and not just because it’s unauthorized, but because it’s about tuna, and because it’s been around since 1978. That definitely sounds well beyond Disney’s reach since they had absolutely nothing to do with the budding saga at that time so it’s fair to state that the tuna company, if they’re still in business, are well in the clear from paying anyone off or being sued into oblivion. Plus, how nice would it have been if the entire fight between the Empire and the Rebels could have been hashed out by sitting down to a nice meal of tuna and, whatever else? If you were looking at this commercial with arched eyebrows and a slackened jaw don’t feel too bad, you’re not alone in that since it was kind of eye-popping in its own way. Like anything else in pop culture though it’s kind of obvious that if there’s a chance to make good using something that’s famous at the moment, then it’s bound to happen. The fact that it wasn’t authorized apparently is a bit disturbing but given the lack of technology at that time it might have happened that the creators of the commercial didn’t think they were going to get in trouble.

When one thinks about it if anyone tried to do something like this without permission these days, Disney would be all over them like flies on, well, you know. The fact that anything shown online is going to travel the world in a heartbeat if the content is popular or controversial enough kind of puts the cap on whether or not it could happen. That, and the idea that so many people are out to protect their intellectual property with a vengeance would be enough to say that it would never happen these days. But back in the 70s it might have taken quite a while for Lucas to really notice this, if he did at all, and trying to collect in court over such a gaffe might have been more of a process than it would have been worth. Plus the hilarity of it would likely negate any real desire to sue for any possible damages since it’s likely that there weren’t any. When a person factors in just what Star Wars has been used to sell, tuna really isn’t high on that list, and it’s a very, very long list. Lisa Lacey of Linkdex has more on this if you’re interested.

As effects and cinematography goes this could have been someone’s amateur idea of a quick and easy way to get a little more notice for their product since like it or not, tuna has been given a good deal of exposure throughout the years, but unless you’re in Japan it’s likely been dominated by American marketing. It’s just one of those products that doesn’t gain nearly as much attention as others despite the fact that there’s so much that can be done with it. Some might argue this point but tuna is a very versatile product that can be used in a lot of different ways, and it’s very likely that the Japanese have mastered more ways than many Americans could likely boast, though personal tastes being what they are it’s also likely that some people might prefer the more straightforward and less exotic flavors that the fish is used to highlight. All that aside, using Star Wars to push the product isn’t really that surprising since it’s something that can gain a lot of attention given that even back in 1978 people were still excited following the first movie and were likely to recognize the characters and even enjoy the commercial in a way. Seeing Chewbacca jump around like an over-excited monkey was odd, and watching C-3PO act as a serving droid was also kind of out of character, but hey, it was a commercial, something that people are usually expected to laugh at or find quaint. Thinking it was a serious representation would be kind of hard-nosed, not to mention more than a little cynical. These days this obviously wouldn’t happen, and even back then it could have been a serious matter, but likely as not it was allowed to slip by for various reasons.

The Japanese take on Star Wars is notably different as Casey Baseel from Sora News 24 points out since who knew there was lightsaber etiquette that needed to be followed? Plus, the characters were altered just enough while keeping their obvious roles to make the commercial work for the company in a kind of chaotic but amusing way. One has to wonder though if George Lucas ever really believed this was happening, knew it was, or even cared. After all, it’s not like it took a lot of money out of his pocket.

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