Sapporo takes a deeper look at Western influences

The Japanese beer brand continues to explore cultural exchange in a new four-part docuseries.

sapporo-2Sapporo is expanding its “Return the Favour” platform, rolling out an original four-episode docuseries to tap into an affinity for Japanese culture.

The docuseries explores pastimes typically associated with the west (like blue jeans and rock ‘n’ roll) reinterpreted by the Japanese in an east-meets-west cultural hodgepodge, but in a longer form. The principals in the series were briefly introduced in “Return the Favour” last year, and the docuseries aims to bring their stories to life in more detail. For example, one episode focuses on rocker Johnny Pandora, who weaves elements of Samurai culture and looks inspired by Elvis into his rockabilly persona, inspired by living next to a U.S. Army base.

Dana Brochu, marketing director for Sapporo Canada, says the documentary style of filming was the right approach to properly do justice to the characters in a more fleshed out way, something the brand has continued to see demand for following last year’s campaign launch.

The platform is resonating, she says, because “there is a truth in the mutual fascination and magic that happens with the interchange of eastern and western cultures.” She adds adds that the east-meets-west feel was an important insight behind the campaign, and that by focusing on cultural connections, Sapporo is able to bring customers closer to the brand.

The concept of cultural exchange goes all the way back to the company’s founder, brew-master Seibei Nakagawa, who travelled to Bavaria in the late 1800s where he was trained in the art of beer making. The brand has regularly positioned itself as offering a beer that was unique in the market, and Brochu says Sapporo is targeting both import and premium domestic beer drinkers who choose brands that reflect “their own distinctiveness.” She believes a more detailed look at the unique culture mix highlighted in the new videos will continue to resonate with them.

Brochu says the TV creative intentionally showcases the more contemporary, sociable side of the brand to make it relatable to Canadians (it includes bar settings and baseball references), moving away from the expected context of the sushi restaurant viewers might expect to see from a brand associated with Japan.

The&Partnership, created these extensions and media partner Jungle developed the brand’s digital plan on YouTube.