Japan and New Zealand have hip-hop/origami/robot babies as Steinlager unveils Tokyo Dry

Origami, bonsai trees, robots, lanterns and sumo wrestlers move to the rhythm of Kiwi hip-hop dance crew The Bradas in a new spot announcing the arrival of Steinlager’s Tokyo Dry beer.

Developed by DDB under the watchful gaze of executive creative director Shane Bradnick and Goodoil director Joel Kefali, the spot hurls the viewer into a fantastical dance circle unfolding on the streets of Tokyo to an original soundtrack by LA-based Kiwi Cam Ballantyne.

Fresh from winning their second World Hip-Hop title in Los Angeles, The Bradas take centre stage performing a high-energy routine, while CGI progressively transforms each of them into anthropomorphic versions of classic Japanese imagery (the behind-the-scenes video provides a glimpse at how it all came to life).

Nothing about it feels like a Kiwi beer ad. There are no references to the New Zealand heartland, no clever quip by a generic bloke and no extended sip scene.

In fact, the beer being released only appears after 86 seconds in the 90-second spot.  

The entire ad focuses on connecting the new brand with a much younger, more globalised target market.    

“What we recognised is that guys in their early 20s have a very different idea about what they want to drink and the repertoire is so much bigger than it once was,” says Lion marketing manager Michael Taylor.  

“Beer hasn’t really been connecting that well with them, and doing the same old thing with beer probably isn’t the way to solve that.”

Taylor says even the product itself was informed by younger consumers, who shared their preferences with the Lion team in the lead up to the creation of the new product.     

“We spent a lot of time talking to young people and asking them what their issues were with beer, and a lot of them said that they find beer too bitter and too heavy,” Taylor says. “And when we asked them what kind of beer they would want to drink, they’d often say that they find Japanese beer quite refined, crisp and lighter.”

The product design was developed by design agency In-house, which paid careful attention to detail, going as far as developing a Hanko (name stamp), which translates as Lion.   

The thought of a Kiwi company developing a Japanese beer might seem incongruent at first, but Taylor says it wasn’t all that surprising to the younger target market, which doesn’t really buy into the truths of the older generation.

“[As Kiwis], we still talk about being isolated and that we need to punch above our weight to succeed. But, particularly to younger people who have grown up in a connected world, those ideas aren’t as compelling anymore.”  

Kiwis are used to seeing local talent excel on the international stage, even in disciplines that aren’t necessarily Kiwi (such as Hip-Hop dancing for instance).

The collaborative spirit of the product is also captured on the product branding, which is tagged with the phrase ‘New Zealand’s raw ingredients meet Japanese brewing mastery’.

“While we’ve tried to be as straightforward about this idea of Kiwi raw ingredients meeting Japanese mastery, it’s also the launch of the Tokyo Dry platform, which is ‘Welcome to the other side,’ which we just tease at the end,” says Bradnick.

“The idea behind this is that when you combine something from New Zealand and something from somewhere else, you get something completely different. It’s not just about a random collaboration.”

Bradnick says more work will roll out on this platform as the brand develops over time.

“What we try to do with a lot of our brands, whether it’s ‘Keep it Pure’ for Steinlager Pure or ‘Imagine’ for Lotto, is to set the platform that allows us to do work that builds the brand over a longer period.” 

Steinlager has, in fact, already announced an online extension of the platform, which will come to fruition in the shape of documentary series on Vice, exploring the other side of tattoo, illustration and food.

“These three pieces of content will be released in November, and each one will feature a Kiwi going across to Japan to work with a master in each of the disciplines,” says Taylor.

“These are not ads. They will all be shot in a documentary style.”

The campaign rolled out yesterday, and the product is already available in supermarkets for those who would like to try New Zealand’s interpretation of a Japanese beer.


Client credits:

National Marketing Director: Craig Baldie
Category Marketing Director – Beer: Ben Wheeler
Marketing Manager – Premium and Craft Beer: Michael Taylor
Brand Manager – Premium and Craft Beer: Benafsha Hajati

Agency credits:

Creative: DDB

Chief Creative Officer: Damon Stapleton
Executive Creative Director: Shane Bradnick
Creative Director: James Conner
Creative Director: Christie Cooper
Lead Business Partner: Scott Wallace
Senior Business Director: Jenny Travers
Business Manager: Michael Doolan
Planning Director: Lucinda Sherborne, Rupert Price
Planner: Jack Murphy
Senior TV Producer: Rosie Grayson
Agency Producer: Andy Robilliard

Production Company: Goodoil

Executive Producer: Sam Long
Production Producer: Llew Griffiths
Director: Joel Kefali
DOP: Lachlan Milne
Tokyo Service Company: Dictionary Films

Post Production Company: The Palace

Online: Mat Ellin
Offline Editor: Levi Beamish
Soundtrack/composer/Music: Cam Ballantyne, Beatworms.
Sound Mix: Jon Cooper

Media: Zenith Optimedia

General Manager: Stuart Rutherford
Business Manager: Kate Gamble

PR: PR Shop

Managing Director – Pippa Lekner

Digital: Young and Shand

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