Of Lohms and Mindslaves

Lying on my desk is a document entitled:
Lohms vs. Orifice Size
I don’t know who put it there, but apparently I get to make a presentation on it later this morning. in Japanese! Yay!
Welcome to the modern state of technical translation, where a total ignoramus like myself can hop on the Al Gore Expressway and become an expert on any specialized subject matter in a matter of seconds – and before you ask, no, a Lohm is not a penis (but an orifice is, well, an orifice). A Lohm is a Liquid ohm – get it? Ohms are units used to express electrical resistance, so morphazenilinguistically speaking, Lohms are the units used for liquid resistance. This unit of measure, when pronounced by my Japanese colleagues, sounds like “Rohm”, which is an electronics component maker based in Kyoto. (Sorry if you thought I was going to continue in the vein of fluid dynamics; the best I can do for you there is to promise a future update about writing my name in the snow.)
I wrote a slogan for Rohm’s public relations department when I first started my career as a non-gaijin-looking gaijin in a translation company years ago. It didn’t seem like a special job or anything, they just needed a catch line for a “small advertising effort” in English and they faxed over some sentences in Japanese to base it on (BTW they had a G4 fax machine that seemed super fast compared to standard G3 fax machines but often suffered from mysterious transmission failures.). I ended up creating three or four different variations for them to choose between and thought little of what would become of it thereafter. Turns out they ended up using it in their radio and television commercials, which were aired quite frequently on national television. It was also used on company brochures, posters, etc., and somewhat less gloriously, on the back covers of obscure trade magazines with names like “Precision Mounted Chip Design” and “Capacitors Weekly.” I admit, I was proud whenever I saw my words out in the real world. (I feel free to talk about it now because they are no longer using it on their website and the posters in the subway stations are long gone. Also, regardless of what I post below, I think it was a great ad campaign and hope it was a success for Rohm.) In a way, I felt silly on the importance being placed on a simple phrase I thought up at the spur of the moment. Then again, simplicity is often the best option, and it was gratifying to see my words in print and pixel broadcast to millions. Millions and millions of potential clients who might make a decision based on seeds planted in their heads by effective advertising. And if it sounds like it started getting to my head, that’s because it did at the peak of the ad campaign.
Sometimes the commercials would come on when I was watching TV with other people (sometimes clients) and it was a turbo-nitro ego boost when the leggy models in the ads paraded around futuristic space-and-satellite backdrops with my words flowing out of their mouths. People I was with would usually give me props and I would just bask in the glory as everyone came to the realization that, in a way, these girls were actually my mindslaves. Through the looking glass of manga/Kubrickian reality where my reasoning takes vacations after steady consumption of alcohol, the mindslaves on the screen seemed completely powerless to resist. They returned to the screen at regular intervals to convey my thoughts. They awaited further orders. They waited for anything, some kind of sign or command. There they remain to this day. Faithfully waiting.
OK, so maybe it got to my head a little bit more than I care to admit, but it was still kinda cool for a salaryman who was just starting out and trying to make his mark on the world. Especially when the cute models were replaced by a fly. Not just any fly. The Fly. According to this Japanese fan site, Rohm chose Jeff Goldblum because his role as a scientist in the movie Jurassic Park (released in Japan shortly after the commercials started airing) perfectly fit the image of the company’s high tech products (and also because he was new to Japandering). As a famous actor later to be known for 13375ki11s with a Powerbook, and used to dealing with the mind games and manipulation that is show biz, would he be impervious to my powers? Heh.

3 thoughts on “Of Lohms and Mindslaves

  1. Your “Japandering” link is mis-typed, with the cosbu url getting in the way. As this is an editing related comment, feel free to erase after reading it.

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