Friday’s ad is for Sapporo, probably from the early part of the 20th century. It shows a female bartender in a green dress with a red belt serving a bottle of Sapporo. I can’t read Japanese Kanji so I don’t know what it says, but it’s a cool ad and you can see why they obviously made a poster out of it.
Friday’s ad is for Asahi, from sometime over the last decade or so. It’s hard to say since Japanese anime or manga art is often so timeless. Animation in the form of anime and manga is incredibly popular in Japan, and became increasingly so in the U.S. from the 1980s on. Beyond the cheesecake factor, it’s a simple, and familiar beer advertising image, of a woman on the beach in a bikini. I’m sure that music means something, but I don’t recognize the tune. The woman also may be a familiar character from a popular manga book but I don’t recognize her either.
Saturday’s ad is for Kirin, from 1939. This is another odd one, with a Japanese woman holding a large bottle of Kirin beer over her shoulder. But her shadow shows a soldier marching behind her, which seems almost eerie in hindsight, knowing that World War 2 was looming and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was only two years away.
Here’s a hilarious marketing development, one that would absolutely never fly in the land of the free and the home of the “think about the children” neo-prohibitionists. If you’ve been the parent of a young daughter, you’re probably already familiar with the marketing juggernaut that is Hello Kitty and her legion of cute minions from Sanrio. It’s hard to think of another character with as much licensed tie-in merchandising as Hello Kitty. She makes Disney look like amateurs. So really, it should come as no surprise then, that Sanrio has licensed Hello Kitty for a series of four fruit beers, brewed by the Taiwan Tsing Beer Co.. The four initial fruit beers include Peach, Passion Fruit, Banana and Lemon and come in 330 ml cans.
Bloomberg Businessweek referred to the announcement as Zen and the Art of Crass Marketing, which is surprising since I never really thought of the business press, or indeed the business world generally, as having high moral standards if there was a buck to be made. When you consider that it was big business that sank the country, and the world, into a global recession, then getting a bailout from us, while still collecting their bonuses, I have had time swallowing Bloomberg’s assertion that this is the line that business dare not cross, that this is the one going too far into crassness. If anything, this is pretty harmless and funny.
The ABC News Report is slightly more balanced, and reveals that these “new fruit-flavored cans mark Hello Kitty’s second entry into the world of alcohol. Previously, Hello Kitty wines were licensed in Asia, Europe and the United States.”
I can’t say any of them look particularly good, but one thing most news accounts overlooked is that the beer is actually only 2.3% a.b.v., making them session beers, and actually the opposite of the evil Bloomberg makes them out to be. Also, Kotaku, reviewing the beers, describes them as “closest to Chimay but with stronger fruit flavorings. The fruit isn’t a note or a sense in these beverages but instead the overpowering star of it all.” That’s hard to swallow, but then I haven’t actually tried them and it’s likely I won’t ever have the chance to, not that it will keep me up at night. Still, an odd and twisted development.