CASSIES Bronze: Sapporo builds a mythology

A Dentsu campaign comprised of samurais, geishas and dragons helps turn Canada into the Japanese beer’s most successful international market.

BRONZE: Packaged Goods Beverage • BRONZE: Best Integrated Program

Situation Analysis: Sapporo is one of Japan’s most successful beers, but in Canada it had never gained any real traction. Then Sapporo International bought Sleeman Breweries and decided to set up Sapporo for long-term sustained growth in Canada.

Strategy & Insight: Initial research revealed enormous opportunities but also a pretty big problem: Canadians think of sake, not beer, when they think of Japan. This framed the challenge – to present Sapporo as the best of Japan and the best of beer (while not coming across as a tourism piece).

Execution: This began in June 2010 with a two-minute video showing samurais, taiko drummers, geishas, sumo wrestlers and dragons creating the beer in a legendary Sapporo Brewery. This was released on YouTube and seeded to prominent bloggers. Meanwhile 60- and 15-second TV spots, and, extended the story, along with Japanese-themed street events and a new tap handle in bars based on a samurai’s sword.

Results: For the 12 months after June 2010, Sapporo sales were up 62%, making Canada Sapporo’s most successful international market. The two-minute ad generated more than 2.8 million views online, making it one of Canada’s most successful viral ads.
Cause & Effect: Ad awareness more than doubled and overall brand awareness increased more than 30%, with significant increases in all desired images and attributes. Distribution increased, but this was an effect, not a cause. As for spending, the results were achieved while spending a fifth to an eighth of what major import brands spend.


Sleeman/Sapporo Canada
VP marketing: Stephane Duval
VP sales: Greg Newbrough
director marketing: Scott Pederson

Dentsu Canada
president: Bob Shropshire
creative catalyst: Glen Hunt
strategic catalyst: Jeff McCrory
ECD: Andy Manson
ACD/AD: Les Soos
writer: Dhval Bratt
AD: David Glen
account director: Tim Binkley
account supervisor: Sharon Hill
producer: Cameron Moffat
ACD digital: Peter Gomes
producer: Sharon Kosokowsky

Click here to return to the list of winning cases