Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Art of Japanese Whisky meets the Art of Advertising

We like to look to ads from yesteryear for inspiration as we are working with new (and old) products. Often these are just print ads from magazines from the 40s on, but when it comes to video some of the best are from several thousand miles east of our Napa HQ… and we found many for Suntory, the Japanese distillery responsible for some of the most sought after whisky in the world today. So we put this little feature about the distillery together. Click the links for some great ads from days gone by.

Suntory distillery was founded in the early 1920s, but was not well-known here in the United States until 2003 when their whiskies began an unparalleled surge in popularity thanks to the film Lost in Translation. Bill Murray’s (who happens to be near our home base for “Festival Napa Valley” right now) dead-pan, stoic performance has been revered, but that fictional tale is not the first to feature actors and celebrities from the UK and US endorsing these fine drams. Now the brand is omnipresent, be it the legend that is Yamazaki 18 year old or the subtlety found in Hibiki Harmony, you likely know something about Japanese whisky. 

Sofia Coppola likely found inspiration from her famous director father and his series of ads for Suntory extolling the virtues of whisky and friendship with another film legend, Akira Kurosawa. Perhaps seeing Sean Connery go from disheveled to perfectly-pressed after a glass of Suntory Crest was the muse for Mr. Murray’s performance.

Humorous ads such as the one featuring a cartoon, bobblehead-like Duran Duran singing “The Reflex” might spark your interest. Perhaps a little ad-lib by the incomparable Sammy Davis Jr. would prove Suntory Whisky is of your class. Maybe a glass of Suntory on the rocks drunk to the jazz jams of my man, Ron Carter, on the bass, is your ideal soundtrack for relaxing times.

Speaking of “on the rocks,” check out these incredible ice cubes created by Tokyo Advertising Agency, TBWA/Hakuhodo for Suntory a couple of years ago! Icy works of art that pair with whisky works of art.

No matter which endorser you side with, bottles like Suntory’s ‘Toki’ or Hibiki Harmony are best enjoyed during these warm summer evenings the way the Japanese drink their whisky… on the rocks.