In 2016, Marussia Beverages acquired the Akashi-Tai brewery, a Japanese artisan sake and spirits producer near Kobe. Together with Kimio Yonezawa - ASB's General Manager whose family involvement with sake can be traced up to the mid 1800's - Marussia Beverages created a series of new products. Read here how Brand Reveal helped develop the positioning and strategy for ASB new gin : 135º East.
Unlike projects which focus only one on brand only, the ASB project required to develop the positioning and strategy for three brands : the 135º East gin, Hatozaki Whisky and Akashi-Tai sake. As this project aimed to bring Japanese brands to the rest of the world, we felt care and active listening was required to convey the brands' depth and avoid stereotypes.
Furthermore, in the words of Marc Torterat - Marussia Beverages Marketing Director - the brief was to “transform products into brands” and ensure the project deliverables would “provide an actionable strategy to teams in markets”. Indeed, best concepts are the ones that translate into action!
The approach: To tackle the project in the most efficient way, we adopted a sequential approach. We first developed the 135º East gin idea, then Hatozaki and Akashi-Tai. This would allow to fine tune formats, calibrate process and clarify concepts with Marussia Beverages' teams before applying to all brands.
In this context, the Brand Reveal positioning & strategy method proved to be useful, i.e. 1) Brand Review, 2) Team Workshop and 3) Output Summary. These steps were also organised for efficient logistics and travelling. For instance, the Brand Review phase included a visit to Akashi, so the interviews and information collection in Japan were done for all three brands in one go.
135º East: pronounced “one thirty five”, 135º East takes its name from the longitude which crosses the city of Akashi. This line also symbolises a frontier, open to be crossed. The territory chosen for 135º East is based on the fabulous Taishō period of the 1920’s, which was marked by an unprecedented surge in liberal politics, where Japan opened to western culture such as Jazz, nightlife and a spirit of independence.
The idea of crossing boundaries and opening up to new ideas became natural to 135º East. At the core, a simple proposition: to stimulate the unexpected. Far away from the delicate sakura / samurai / temple stereotypes, 135º East is an unmistakable dry style gin, infused yuzu and sansho pepper, to create what we call the "Hyogo Style".
This spirit of curiosity, spontaneity and originality is conveyed in every aspect ot the pack. The label is inspired by a post card 1920’s design with a warm red background - a rather unusual colour in gins. The label shows a newsboy crossing a border to spread news. The design experts will also note the typography is inspired from wood fonts, a departure from the classic hand painted kanji characters.
135º East will be introduced in the UK, France and USA in October 2019 at BCB. The next article will give hints about the Akashi-Tai sake hidden details proposition and its family architecture. Brand Reveal is a network of marketing senior experts with a serious knock for strategy and drinks. And Japan. For more about us and what we can do for you, contact [email protected].