Conversations at a Japanese Ad Agency

Conversations at a Japanese Ad Agency

I chewed my hair.  Started reading the torture that is a contract in Chinese, trying to find any unfair conditions or some loophole where our company could score some mega points.  Actually, I was just trying to read the first sentence and got frustrated, thus the hair chewing.

Takada Boss: “Mary, you always nibble on your hair,” said my ultimate-cool-canprobablyruletheworldandkickyourass-woman-boss that sits next to me.

Mary: “Yeah, I know.  I’m sorry.” (すみません)

Takada Boss: “Nothing to apologize about… but didn’t your mom ever get mad at you for chewing on your hair?”

Mary: “No, but my best friend did and always hit me good whenever she saw me do it.”

Takada Boss: “You’re like a cat.  You know, cat’s eat their hair.”

Mary: “I remind you of a cat?”

Takada Boss: “Yeah.  When they eat their hair too much, though, they get furballs.  Do you get furballs too?”

Mary: “….I try my hardest not to, Takada-san.  I try my hardest not to.”


I was in the car with Mr. Kumo, the 35-year-old Rico Suave of our digital team.

Mr. Kumo: “Your head must get messed up with so many languages in there.”

Mary: “Yeah, it hurts sometimes.  I think my brain resembles pudding.”

Mr. Kumo: “BTW,  my ex was an Italian girl.”

Mary: “Wow that’s amazing! How did you two meet?”

Mr. Kumo: “Italian girls are really good at flirting. I mean, I was just standing around smoking and then this Italian girl comes up to me and says in English ‘don’t I know you from somewhere?” and I said ‘YES!’

Me: “Wow, I didn’t know you could speak English.”

Mr. Kumo: “I can’t. Didn’t know what she was saying, but so glad I said yes. Ohhh yeaaa.”

Mary: “Dang. Those Italian girls are good.”


I was called down to the 7th floor for an emergency pitch meeting.  I had absolutely nothing to do with the pitch, so I was a bit stunned as to why they so desperately needed my presence.  I walked into a room full of 10 senior staff convening over a powerpoint presentation.

Boss A: “Mary, I’m so glad you could make it, we need you.”

Mary: “What can I assist you with?”

Mr. Kumo: “Yeah, what is Mary doing here?”

I shift uncomfortably.

Boss A: “This is a pitch for an international client in English.  We need Mary here to prove to them that we’re global, and that this English isn’t Engrish.”

Mr. Kumo: “There’s just one problem with that.  Look at Mary’s hair–it’s black.  They’re not gonna know, man.  She can go dye her hair blonde.”

Mary: “Uh, you seriously want me to dye my hair blonde tonight?”

Boss A: “Yeah.  Let’s have Boss B go blonde as well while we’re at it.”

Boss B (who is very Japanese): “I think if I dye my hair blonde, we’re going to lose the client.”

(….and no, I didn’t dye my hair blonde)


*I see the young designer cower away from Takada’s desk and shuffle away*

Takada-san: “Mary, since you’re single now, make a man out of that herbivore man.”



*I smile to random employee as we cross paths in the hallway*

Random Employee: “You have the most beautiful smile.”

Mary: “You just made my day.”


Mary: “Takada-san, are you alright?”

Takada-san: “I’m so hungover.  It hurts to breathe.”

Mary: “Drinkin late huh?”

Takada-san: “Went out with Suntory last night.  They made me drink every alcoholic mix possible.”

Mary: “And you drink like a sailor.  Damn, you must have really chugged it last night.”

*Takada-san does a face plant into the desk*

Takada-san: 辛い。。。。

Nothin like seein your boss hungover.


*At a huge CEO meeting in Beijing*

Japanese CEO A: “Look at all these white people here.  It makes me sick to my stomach.”

Mary: “Uh, sir, I’m technically white as well.”

Japanese CEO A: “Oh yeah.  Forgot.  Well, whatever, let’s have another drink.  Cheers to the USA!”


And the best for last…

Super Famous CEO A: “So I need all of your clients and profits and accounts–stat.  You give me that info and maybe we can work something out.”

Japanese CEO B: “If I may ask, do you have a per-existing format that I need to use for submitting those documents?”

CEO A laughs and slams his hand on the table.

Super Famous CEO A: “Yeah, it’s called excel, buddy.”

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