It's no secret that our biggest movie stars have earned big paychecks in Japan, where they appear in print and television ads for products like cars, ham, and instant noodles. Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others, might never sell out so easily in America, but in the Land of the Rising Sun, it is apparently okay to be an endorsement monkey. The practice was parodied well in Lost in Translation, with Bill Murray portraying a Hollywood big shot shilling for Suntory whiskey, and in the TV-show Entourage, which really displayed Japanese advertising as being a source for a quick buck.
However, now Japan isn't as interested in American faces. For the past few years, the country has seen more Japanese and Korean stars cast in commercials, because Hollywood just doesn't sell like it used to. Another trend Japan has been into lately is -- get this -- focusing on the product, itself. Maybe too many Japanese folks got tired of discovering that their favorite icons don't come with the car/ham/noodles.