SingleCut Beersmiths gamifies New IPA, Big in Japan

Ads, Creativity

For over 50 years, rock bands from the west have flown east and made it ‘Big in Japan’. Quite often making it in the far east before they were even popular in their own countries. Now for its first Japanese release, SingleCut Beersmiths, a rock-themed craft brewery in NYC, is paying tribute to this music phenomenon by gamifying its latest IPA.

The aptly named Big in Japan IPA honours four legendary classic rock songs that literally made it ‘big in Japan’. To turn SingleCut packaging into a ‘Name That Tune’ game, four unique labels were created by artfully weaving intricate visual clues from the legendary songs’ famous titles and lyrics within QR codes. Each individual QR code was painstakingly crafted to tell the story of the classic song that was big in Japan. Scanning the codes will take consumers from the clues to the actual classic songs on Spotify.

“Japan’s highly creative gaming culture has been exported around the globe for decades,” says Rich Buceta, Founder and Head Brewer of SingleCut Beersmiths. “We loved the idea of turning our product into a music trivia game with QR codes, knowing how wildly popular they are in Japan.”

Toronto-based agency, Zulu Alpha Kilo, created the integrated campaign, from package design to digital content. To announce Big in Japan to SingleCut fans in New York City and Toronto, western audiences were targeted through Instagram Stories that adapted the QR code beer labels for the social platform. In Tokyo, Big in Japan was promoted within their growing craft beer scene to help make the full-bodied IPA the next great cultural crossover.

Zak Mroueh, Founder & Chief Creative Officer of Zulu Alpha Kilo says,

“Rock and craft beer fans are extremely passionate all over the world, so we wanted to match that energy with an idea that could translate across continents.”


Client: SingleCut Beersmiths

Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo

  • Creative Director: Zak Mroueh
  • Design Director: Ryan Booth
  • Writer: Vinay Parmar
    Art Director: Kevin Sato
  • Illustrator: Ty Dale, Kevin Sato
  • Strategist: Spencer MacEachern, Stephanie Gyles
  • Account Team: Erin McManus
  • Senior Producer: Teresa Bayley
  • Producer: Houng Ngui
  • Studio Director: Greg Heptinstall
  • Production Artist: Anna Harju, Brandon Dyson, Ashleigh O’Brien
  • Animator: Andrew Martin