Creative impulse

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The Independent Online
Kirin Lager, a Japanese beer brewed under licence in the UK by the Charles Wells Brewery, launched a new press campaign on 30 March. Three adverts, depicting various icons of Japanese culture, will appear in all. The one getting all the attention features a karaoke-singing samurai, flanked by two geishas, wondering if his getting a "lecord contlact" could be related to him switching to the "rucky rarger". Wittily ironic or just plain racist?

The client: Charles Wells Brewery

Nigel McNally, head of marketing

Research showed us that consumers associate the Japanese with high product quality, but concentrating merely on that would have been a bit dull. We wanted an element of fun and entertainment.

The Kirin is a creature of Japanese myth, and so using that legend together with the traditional images we associate with Japan, we sought to use the beer's nationality as its main selling point and make the advertising as striking and as Japanese as possible.

The agency: Team Saatchi

Alasdair Fraser, strategic planning director

Our target audience is existing bottled lager drinkers, who fall into two categories: the mainstreamers, who generally follow what other people are doing, and the eclectics, who are more experimental in their choice of lager. They're the ones who set trends, and so it's them we must appeal to, and we were seeking to amuse and entertain them in a way that's relevant to their social setting.

We came up with an advert that is amusing, bright, entertaining and dramatic.

The Kirin is a beast said to be a bringer of good fortune; therefore, the idea is that drinking Kirin lager can bring good luck. Obviously, we can't say that in an advert - if we want to be credible, we've got to turn around that idea and communicate it in a way that people will take on board. The characters in the ads have had good luck, but we're not being serious about them.

Now, I wouldn't have raised the issue of racism or political incorrectness, but since you asked ... While our target audience may not be the most PC people in the world, irony is important here. Obviously, if these ads are taken literally, it could be detrimental to our campaign, but we're certainly not poking fun at the Japanese. How could we? Kirin is a 100 per cent Japanese product, and our ultimate client is Japanese. The campaign was planned in consultation with them, and the Japanese have a great ability to tell jokes about themselves.

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