Whiskey & Branding

In case you haven’t already noticed, I’m a fan of whiskey.

Growing up in Tennessee and seeing the massive popularity of the Jack Daniel’s brand, I was amazed at how a brand could inspire so many people.

When I moved to Japan, it was a surprise at first to see how common Jack Daniel’s was in not just liquor stores but also in almost every bar and even in convenience stores.

Jack Daniel’s is a prime example of how a good product with a powerful brand can become a household name worldwide.

I’m from Tennessee, the U.S. state where Jack Daniel’s is distilled, and I can tell you first-hand that there are plenty of Japanese people who have never heard of Tennessee, but it is hard to find someone in Japan who has never heard of Jack Daniel’s.

When I am working on developing a client’s brand, my goal is to create something that can convey a message that is significant and creates a lasting impression.

In today’s world, it is tough to be original. With the internet, even the most obscure domain names have been taken, and no matter how awesome a name or logo idea you come up with, someone else has probably already done it.

For me, branding is significant in that it enables businesses to be original and interesting even in a world where so many things “have already been done”.

Today, I’m writing this blog because an opportunity has been bestowed upon me. I have been invited by Asahi Beer to attend a tasting at the “Jack Daniel’s Lynchburg Barrel House”, a pop-up bar in Ginza.

From this year, Asahi has become the official importer of Jack Daniel’s and is doing a variety of promotions to celebrate the occasion.

The Master Distiller of Jack Daniel’s, Jeff Arnett, is going to be a special guest at this tasting on his first official trip to Japan.

As Jack Daniels in its many flavors is my omiyage of choice, this is a pretty big deal for me.

Most recently, guests at my wedding received miniature bottles of “Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey” at my wedding.

Today will be an chance to meet the man who developed Jack Daniel’s Honey and serves as the top ambassador for his brand.

For me, it is also going to be interesting to see what Asahi is doing to promote Jack Daniel’s in Japan. Through 2012 the majority of large Japanese companies made inroads into social media, so this year will surely test to see how these companies integrate social media into their campaigns now that the platforms have matured.

I will be posting about tonight’s event on Twitter, so stay tuned around 19:00 JST if you’re interested to see how the event unfolds.
@alleninc on Twitter

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Japan’s GREE sues DeNA

Today, social gaming site GREE filed a lawsuit in Tokyo District Court against DeNA, operator of the competing Mobage service, for pressuring a third-party game development company not to do business with GREE. Together with mobile network operator KDDI, GREE announced that it will seek damages of over 1.05 billion JPY ($14 million USD).

The lawsuit demands 9 billion yen in damages for GREE, as del las an additional 150 million yen for KDDI. This amount could increase in the damage calculation process.

Yoshikazu Tanaka, President of GREE, tweeted the following Monday afternoon –

“Even if you do something illegal, it’s fine if you win against the competition” We must not spread this way of thinking in Japan.

DeNA allegedly put pressure on the game development company in June, and received a cease and desist order from the Fair Trade Commission in August.

This news is just another development in the ongoing competition between GREE and DeNA in the social gaming space. Both companies offer competing services in Japan, and each also has their own plans for launching global social game platforms in 2012.

More than anything else, I think this event confirms that even in famously non-litigious Japan, the times they are a changin’.

MSN Sankei News
@tanakayoshikazu on Twitter

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Remembering Steve Jobs

Right now, the world is learning today’s latest piece of bad news: Apple founder Steve Jobs has died.

Jobs had been suffering from cancer, and his recent departure from Apple made it clear that he was losing the battle. At the time of writing, no specific details have been published. I’m sure the rumor mill will soon begin to speculate that he actually died before the iPhone 4S product launch. Let’s forget about that for now.

This is my eulogy to Steve Jobs.

On top of being a visionary, Steve Jobs was a superb businessman. In the prime of his entrepreneurial career after resigning from Apple in 1985, Mr. Jobs founded NeXT and acquired Pixar. Then in 1997, he returned to Apple and pioneered the development of the iMac and Mac OS X. In doing this, he reinvented the way we saw desktop computers and created a new gold standard for operating systems. Bill Gates had done essentially the same thing an iteration before, but Steve Jobs didn’t stop there. He went on to change the way the world looks at portable music players, mobile phones, and tablet computers. In his 14 years of his second term at Apple, Steve Jobs constantly envisioned hit products, had each new product developed to near perfection, and served them up live to ever-increasing audiences of loyal customers.

Today, the business world has lost a true maven. Can we ever call another person the next Steve Jobs? I don’t think so.

I don’t know much about the personal life of Mr. Jobs, but I would also like to talk about my personal experience growing up with his innovations. My first Apple product was a 5GB iPod, which I received as a gift in 2002. I vividly remember it being the first MP3 player that could actually hold a decent amount of music. I purchased a 12′ Powerbook G4 in 2005, right before my first visit to Japan. It was the first computer that I felt comfortable taking everywhere. My Powerbook lasted through high school, two more trips to Japan, and a year of college in Japan. I am now on my third Apple laptop, a unibody MacBook Pro. Through the years Mr. Jobs directed the creation of products that so many of us liked so much, we took them everywhere. Where other companies would have taken advantage, Apple just kept making better, stronger, and faster products.

Today, we Apple users lost the guy who made sure we never got stuck with junk. Can you talk about how other companies have consistently served innovative products that are reliable enough for years of constant use? I can’t.

So, this is my send-off. Steve Jobs was a great businessman, innovator, manager, brand evangelist, keynote speaker, witch doctor, and turtleneck model among millions of other things. We will never forget him.

If you haven’t already, please read Steve Jobs on Wikipedia. His gift to the world was a legacy that anyone involved in business, marketing, or technology should know by heart.


Thanks, Steve, for changing our lives.



Parker J. Allen and millions of other Apple users.


Apple – Remembering Steve Jobs

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Facebook in Japan

It’s become a hot topic in social media news. Facebook is finally on the ground in Japan and is building its hype machine. On June 7th, Facebook did its first PR event when it launched Deals via a pop-up booth in front of Shibuya 109. It looks like Facebook’s popularity in Japan is growing, and the statistics confirm this trend.

However, only 3.74% of the Japanese population with internet access is using Facebook. A recent online survey shows that Facebook’s closest competitor, mixi, is being used by 33% of Japanese internet users. That same survey shows Twitter use at 17.8%.

What does it all mean? From this data, we can gather that Facebook penetration is still quite low. Mixi still has 6x Facebook’s users. However, Facebook is on the rise.


Let’s look at Facebook’s stats:


Facebook has 3,712,920 total users in Japan (via Socialbakers)

The number of registered users in Japan has doubled in the past 6 months.

This shows how many Japanese people are Googling Facebook:

facebook ログイン 246,000
Facebook 日本 49,500
Facebook 使い方 40,500
facebook アプリ 27,100
= 363,100+ monthly Google searches for Facebook (via Adwords keyword tool)


For comparison, let’s take a look at mixi’s Google popularity:


mixi 11,100,000
ミクシー 450,000
mixi login 201,000
mixi.jp 135,000
= 11,886,000+ monthly searches for mixi (via Adwords keyword tool)


Looks like we won’t be seeing “mixi as No.2” for a good while. Right now, mixi has 15.4 million active users (via this Mixi IR doc, page 5).

Mixi has 23.4 million total users, which is 6.3x the current number of Japanese Facebook users. However, mixi has only experienced 1.1x growth in active users over the past year.

With this rapid growth, many analysts think that Facebook will be a sure-fire success in Japan.


This next bit of statistics answers the question: What about Japanese dissatisfied with Facebook?

facebook 削除 8,100
facebook 退会 1,900
facebook アカウント 削除 880
= 10,880 monthly searches on “how to delete Facebook” (via Adwords keyword tool)

Let’s compare that to mixi. Here’s Japanese Googling how to get rid of mixi:

mixi 退会 8100
mixi 削除 4400
= 12,500 monthly searches on “how to delete mixi” (via Adwords keyword tool)

If we consider login searches as positive, and “how to delete” searches as negative, then Facebook may have a problem on its hands. 2.9% of search traffic for Facebook in Japan is negative, whereas negative traffic only accounts for 0.1% of mixi searches.

There are several possible reasons for this. Facebook is a new service in Japan, it’s a foreign concept to Japanese people, and Facebook’s notorious disregard for privacy goes completely against Japan’s preference for online anonymity.


I think this data suggests that Facebook Japan:

1. Is experiencing a lot of popularity

2. Has high potential for success

3. Hasn’t convinced Japanese that they need it yet


My prediction is that Facebook will continue to grow, but is hurting itself by not putting enough emphasis on Japan. This blog mentions that Facebook’s Japan office is devoted to development, and only has a staff of 6. Sales and ads are apparently going to be managed through their Singapore office.

Can Facebook succeed in Japan with only 6 local staff and a couple of contracts with local marketing firms?

Japanese market usually does not respond well to big foreign companies unless there is a clear commitment.

Facebook can succeed in Japan, but it needs to invest a lot more in order to do so.

I would like to see Facebook succeed in Japan, but I am not sure if Facebook can successfully do Japan operations from overseas offices.

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Hello and welcome to the Wisky.jp blog.

I’m Parker, Founder of Wisky.jp.

I have created this blog to share my thoughts and experiences on social media & marketing in Japan. In addition, to keep with the theme of Wisky, I will also be blogging about interesting whisky-related branding & ad campaigns that I come across in Tokyo.

This blog uses Disqus to manage comments, which means that you can comment on any post using your Facebook or Twitter ID. All login information is securely handled by Disqus. I encourage everyone to comment on and share any post that they find interesting.

Other than this blog, I will also be updating regularly on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Parker J. Allen

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