49ers Still Popular in Japan Because of Joe Montana
When you think of countries outside of the United States that enjoy American football, Japan probably isn’t one of the first to come to mind. We know the NFL is somewhat popular in London as a result of the games that have been played there over the last several years, but who knew Japan had a favorite NFL team?
As SFGate.com shared with us, American football became popular in Japan in the 1980s thanks to Joe Montana.
“He was the best pitchman any league could ever ask for,” said Ikuma Isaac of Nippon TV Japan and NFLJapan.com. Montana, at the time, did a commercial for Mitsubishi electronics and used a play on words with his last name that was similar to a Japanese phrase. The commercial, Montana, the 49ers and the NFL became a huge hit.
Nippon TV is a Japanese network that was in Santa Clara this week to get some stories on the Niners’ unlikely success so far this season. According to cameraman and and director Kohel Kosaka, about 80 percent of the people in Japan are familiar with the 49ers thanks to Montana. Nicely done, Joe. Nicely done indeed.