Saturday, 18 September 2010

SAPPORO's “The Legendary Biru” Campaign Gets Lost In Translation

The original task assumedly of this campaign was to “tell the story of the Sapporo brewing process weaving Japan’s deep cultural heritage into the narrative”.  Presumably, a secondary client goal should have been established to “share that message with as many people as possible”.   We kid - as it's great work on many production levels.  The only point we hope to demonstrate is that, with a few slight tweaks in strategy, this could have been so much more. 

The website itself is centered on a character – the Sage – who is “the keeper of the legend of Sapporo".  He leads visitors on a treasure hunt through the site where the goal is to collect a number of hidden scrolls. Some are easy to find and tell a brief story about the beer, while others are well hidden and require diligence to unlock. Those who reach the end of the journey are given a message tailored to the number of scrolls they’ve discovered, while those who manage to collect all 15 scrolls are entered to win a trip to Japan”.  Ho hum.  

The “website as destination" strategy demonstrated needs to evolve to a branded utility model (or something far more in touch with the way people access, use, and share content today).  Certainly the website could remain a central focus and hub of the online campaign, but the real fun and engagement could have been extended well beyond a simple site experience - especially in light of all the dynamic new technologies available today.  

The campaign should have been far more focused more extending messaging virally and making the idea bigger then the media or medium.  Imagine, for example, if users were rewarded/ incentivized for extending SAPPORO content to peers?  Better still if the user could be positioned as the story's "Hero" rather than the "Sage" character.   In essence, allowing consumers and prospects to adopt the Sapporo brand as their own (and be validated socially for it in a clever, interesting, and entertaining way using emerging technology).  Imagine further if this content was so interesting, so compelling and entertaining News channels picked up the story?   Imagine if the original goal was to take $10 in media spend and garner $100 in ROI?  

While we definitely applaud the attempted storytelling aspect of the “Sage” taking people on a Sapporo journey – the campaigns biggest failure is it's lack of participatory vehicles (it feels like a monologue).  Although the production is high, the creative strategy seems woefully ignorant of the SAPPORO target demographic and their social technographic profile.  As further evidence of this point, as of this posting there were only 29 “Fans” on the SAPPORO Facebook page (the only social property we could find).

As competitive as the Beer market is, marketers can easily lose sight of the emotional connection their brands have with their consumers—and just how critical that connection is to their overall success.   As consumers take command of their media consumption and increasingly filter out traditional brand messages—deeper storytelling and relevant emotional consumer connections are becoming powerful competitive weapons as they reconnect and deepen the emotional underpinnings of your brand.

Bottom line:  A campaign like this may have captured consumers mind-set a years ago, however, today there are amazingly no participatory elements in the campaign that resonate or create any real Buzz; nothing certainly that ‘pops’ - disrupts or differentiates itself - or adds real user value, utility, or entertainment.     Bottom line - it’s really important when planning and executing campaigns today to focus on one BIG, VIRAL, RELEVANT, DIFFERENTIATING IDEA (based upon a unique brand insight) - then amplify it across all relevant channels in meaningful and engaging ways.  

But of course, that’s just our two-cents.  What do you think? Check the site out at  

Sapporo Beer from Lollipop on Vimeo.

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Goodbuzz Inc. is a Toronto-based Digital Agency that creates social media campaigns that entice consumers to play, create, and share brand experiences. This is accomplished by focusing on developing "branded utility" - moving away from interruptive 'push' models towards more meaningful ways of connecting. From simple metrics to actionable insights that enable data-driven marketing decisions - Goodbuzz links social media efforts to business outcomes. Visit Goodbuzz or join us on FacebookAny / all product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and are hereby acknowledged.