Ad Age has a fascinating piece about Sapporo's efforts to reposition its beer out of the sushi bar and into a nightclub luxury brand. Cristal and Courvoisier have made this shift before, from niche beverage to hip-hop status symbol, but sushi is doing a lot of the work for Sapporo: thanks to club-restaurant hybrids (like New York's Matsuri), fish and rice are already becoming a preferred finger food of the nightlife set.
Sapporo has yet a great advantage over Asahi or Kirin: its 22-ounce silver cans, which have the heft of a fuselage. The undulating argentine form, evokes Gehry more than Fresca, deserves a place in design museums and the size — more than a pint, but not too big that the bottom of your beer gets warm before you get there — is just about ideal. If the banal Jamaican lager Red Stripe could gain cachet based on the way its stubby glass bottles stood out in the refrigerator case, Sapporo has a silhouette primed for trendiness.
All Sapporo needs to do now is build its brand awareness in the hip-hop world, and the best thing to do might be to get a rapper to start dropping the term "22" in rhyme. Perhaps the Japanocentric Wu-Tang Clan?
Read about Sasha Issenberg's The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy at www.thesushieconomy.com.