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The American brewery, SingleCut Beersmiths, is a rock-themed craft brewer that originated from New York. For the past few decades, rock bands from the west have flown east and made a reputation in Japan. In 2019, in honour of SingleCut Beersmiths first Japanese release, BIG IN JAPAN IPA, the brewery is paying tribute to this music phenomenon by gamifying its latest IPA.


BIG IN JAPAN IPA honours four legendary classic rock songs that managed to make it “big in Japan”. Four unique labels were created by weaving intricate visual clues from the songs’ famous titles and lyrics within QR codes into the SingleCut packaging. Designed as a “Name that tune” game, each individual QR code was curated to relay the story behind each classic song that was big in Japan. Consumers were challenged to play and decode the unique codes.


Each label had:

  • Clues for the songs that were ‘literally’ made in Japan

  • QR code that direct consumers from the clues to the actual classic songs on Spotify

  • For consumers in New York, the Instagram clues revealed where customers could buy the beer


The integrated campaign was created by a Toronto-based agency, Zulu Alpha Kilo, from the package design to digital content. In order to announce the launch of BIG IN JAPAN IPA to SingleCut fans in New York City and Toronto, the audiences were targeted through Instagram Stories that adapted the QR code beer labels for the social media platform. In Tokyo, BIG IN JAPAN was promoted among the craft beer scene to push the full-bodied IPA as the next great

cultural crossover.


Overall, BIG IN JAPAN IPA was completely sold out within weeks of release. This campaign was so successful that it won them an award on the Forbes’s list of Fresh Consumer Innovation.


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