Asian Studies Center's presentation of Jero is sold out, but ethnomusicology grad student Yuko Eguchi will be at the concert and will report back on this blog. Yuko relates her own encounter with the Jero phenomenon phenomenon below.
"In the summer of 2008, Jero appeared on the TV commercial for the canned coffee “Fire – Café Zero” produced by the Kirin company. It had been a year since I was home in Tokyo, so I did not recognize his face at all. Wherever I went, I saw a huge poster with Jero holding a canned-coffee (“kan-cohee” in Japanese) as if he were holding a diamond treasure. On the TV commercial, Jero sings “Hisame (freezing rain),” makes a turn, drinks one sip of coffee, and proudly states his name “Jero.” Right before he states his name, the announcer says, “even with its sweetness, it has an emphasized coffee beans flavor – café Zero!” “Zero” (calorie) and “Jero”are rhymed, which made me laugh immediately. The theme of this coffee is “New Umai (New taste).” Kirin’s product team uses Jero as a model for the product; he represents “New” and “Old” –he is the first African-American to sing Enka, which is a song style that is popular among older generation. The concept was to keep the good taste of coffee but adding a new flavor so that consumers would not get bored with the tastes. Thus, Jero was a perfect fit to advertise this product – being an African-Americn (new) Enka (old song) singer. You can see his TV commercial here."