Suntory hopes US launch won't be 'Lost in Translation'

NEW YORK - Japanese wine and spirits maker Suntory has hired the New York office of Dentsu Communications to handle PR for the US introduction of its 18-year-old single-malt whiskey, which featured in the movie 'Lost in Translation'.

Dentsu, which had done project work for Suntory in the past, has put five people on the account. It held a media launch party July 15 at the Rainbow Room in New York's Rockefeller Center.

Media relations efforts will include pitching beverage trade media and lifestyle publications such as Esquire and Cigar Aficionado, said Min Tak, a Dentsu SAE overseeing the account.

"We are trying to get more awareness of Japanese whiskey in the United States," she said. "Most the American audience is not aware there is a Japanese whiskey."

Dentsu mentioned in its press release for Suntory 18-year-old and in a media alert for its launch party that Suntory had been featured in the hit film 'Lost in Translation'.

The movie appearance provided a point of reference to get attention from US media that otherwise might not have been familiar with Japanese brand, Tak explained.

A video history of Suntory shown at the launch party also included a clip from the film in which actor Bill Murray plays a pitchman for the brand who is in Tokyo to shoot a fictional commercial for the brand.

In the movie the jaded Murray speaks the tagline: "For Special Times, Make It Suntory Times".

Suntory has had limited distribution for its 12-year-old whiskey in some US Japanese restaurants but is working with Allied Domecq to gain widespread distribution for the 18-year-old product and wider distribution of the 12-year-old variety.

The campaign initially is targeting New York and Chicago.

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