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Bringing a very Japanese beer and a very British sport together #BehindTheIdea

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Asahi Super Dry was the official beer of Rugby World Cup 2023, a fact that was promoted by Made in Amsterdam last year in a multi-channel campaign, running across TV, Social, (D)OOH & Retail.

The collaboration between Made in Amsterdam and Asahi Super Dry focused on capturing the inclusive nature of the sport, engaging fans across various platforms and places Asahi Super Dry’s uniquely refreshing super dry taste alongside its characteristic modern Japanese sensibility.

To learn more, we spoke to Rachna Dhall-Haasnoot, Creative Director and Partner at Made in Amsterdam.

What was the brief?

Asahi Super Dry (ASD) is the official beer for the Rugby World Cup 2023.  Made in Amsterdam was engaged to deliver a through-the-line campaign and leverage this unique position to capitalise on the brand visibility generated by the RWC.

The brief’s primary objective was to drive brand awareness for ASD, showcasing its uniquely refreshing taste and characteristic ‘Modern Japanese sensibility’ on a global scale. The key deliverable was a TVC which showcased how inclusive rugby can be and directly aligned with Asahi Super Dry's progressive values.

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

The sponsorship of the RWC was moving from a famous competitive beer brand to Asahi for the first time ever.  From a brand perspective, this was an opportunity to announce Asahi Super Dry’s arrival on the world stage.

It was also important to distinguish a clear link between the drinking occasion, the product and its provenance. So, we knew from the outset that the stage needed to be a sports bar with rugby, plus the surprising arrival of something new.

What was the process behind ideating the concept?

We were triggered by two things:

  1. The inclusive nature of rugby as a sport. In England, the home of rugby, there is an old saying: “Football is a gentleman's game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligan's game played by gentlemen.” Since we were communicating to both rugby fans and premium beer drinkers at large, we really wanted to tap into this sentiment and play on the theme of increasingly tribal and fractured fan behaviours across sport.
  2. As a Japanese beer with a new Super Dry taste, Asahi Super Dry is a bit of a ‘stranger in a strange land’. We wanted to capture the familiar awkwardness we all feel with strangers until we realise we have something in common.

What was the production process like?

We knew that film itself had a rather expected storyline for a beer ad, but the nuance was in getting it culturally spot on. As such, our protagonists were Japanese and we wanted an authentic representation of their character and reaction, so we decided to look for an internationally-minded Japanese director.

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Working with global production, Stink, made it possible to hit the nail on the head. The director, Hisashi Eto, was keen on casting in Japan instead of finding Japanese actors in Europe to achieve a realistic performance. This approach gave us the best chance of getting that nuance of culture right.

What was the biggest challenge during production? How did you overcome it?

We needed to establish Paris without being able to shoot there in the opening scene. The quickest way to do this was to use the Eiffel Tower as a globally recognised landmark. But the catch was it needed to be a night shot to align with the film’s setting, and the lighting on the Eiffel Tower is rights managed.

In the production approach, we were planning on building the shot in CGI, but realised that the rights also apply to recreation of the Eiffel Tower lighting at night.  So, we would’ve had to completely rethink the scene or come up with a fee that was more than the cost of production itself.

Working with the post-production company, we created a work-around where we used stock footage of Paris at night and built the Eiffel Tower on it in CGI with a slightly different structure and colour of lighting than the original. We also added a laser lighting on the horizon that transitions into the next scene very quickly and draws the viewer’s eye away from the details of the Eiffel Tower.

What is one funny or notable thing that happened during production?

You always learn something new when you work with people from different cultures. And that’s where one of the most memorable moments came from - during wardrobe fitting. Our Japanese cast had flown in from Tokyo the night before, and we were expecting to meet them for the first time at the fitting.

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We had obviously been styling, reviewing and finalising the wardrobe for weeks in advance, but nothing prepared us for the entrance of our lead actors wearing some cutting-edge Japanese fashion (which European sensibilities might not be able to relate to). But we knew we had our perfect ‘stranger in a strange land’ moment right then. So, we ended up using the look they walked in with as their final look in the film.

What’s the main message of this project and why does it matter?

 Asahi Super Dry is built on being open-minded, curious, and having a progressive worldview. Through the campaign, the brand was able to demonstrate how rugby can be inclusive and promote togetherness. The TVC features a group of people entering a sports bar with standoffish patrons who are in the middle of watching a rugby game.

Once they reveal their rugby shirts though, the atmosphere and energy changes as the fans recognise the newcomers as one of their own. The message? The Rugby World Cup and Asahi Super Dry are welcoming to everyone.

By showcasing Asahi Super Dry’s Modern Japanese progressiveness on a global stage, the brand has been able to reinforce its positive and challenging brand identity. And through highlighting the inclusive nature of rugby, the campaign aims to enhance the experience of Rugby World Cup 2023 for fans.

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

It was a very fast turnaround for a global TVC, around three months from approval of final script.

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

We hope the campaign helps to reinforce Asahi Super Dry’s positive and progressive brand image by linking it with the prestigious Rugby World Cup 2023 and announcing its arrival on the world stage.

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By showcasing rugby fans in an inclusive, welcoming light and aligning it with Asahi Super Dry's values, the campaign aims to enhance brand identity, encourage product trial and sales, and engage a broader global audience. Ultimately, the goal is to establish a memorable and emotional connection between Asahi Super Dry and rugby enthusiasts, fostering brand loyalty and driving long-term success.

Credit list for the work?

Global Head of Brand

Diana Simon-Bruns

Global Marketing - Partnerships

Leili Rees-Evans

Global Brand Manager

Partnerships Lorcan Dignan

Creative Director

Rachna Dhall-Haasnoot

Creatives 

Jacques Massarado

Managing Partner & Strategist

Chris Friend

Account Director

Gemma Trounce, Holly Wells

Agency Producer

Grace Francis

Production Company

Stink Films Prague

Executive Producer

Kseniya Kurochkina

Producer

Dominika Tapajcikova

Editor

Filip Malasek

Post-production

PFX Prague

Music & Sound

Audentity / Niels de Otter

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