Asahi Super Dry has been on sale for 35 years, and for most of that time it’s been Japan’s best-selling brew. In January, though, Asahi revealed that it was changing the beer’s recipe for the first time in its history, and now comes a big change in its marketing.
Since Asahi Super Dry launched in 1987, the company has employed an annual “image girl” to serve as a spokesmodel for the year. The image girl is generally an up-and-coming model/actress, and some, such as Norika Fujiwara, went on to major stardom in the entertainment industry. Asahi has now announced, though, that it will be abolishing the image girl part of its marketing.
▼ The first Asahi Super Dry image girl, Tomoko Yamaguchi, can be seen on the left.
Though not a dedicated swimwear modeling gig, the image girls did feature predominantly in Super Dry’s ad campaigns in the summer, when demand for beer is highest and competition fiercest, which involved posing in various seasonal and seaside fashions, swimsuits included.
▼ Left: 2003 image girl Aki Higashihara
Right: 1998 image girl Reiko Kojima
▼ 2018 image girl Riho Asaka
With the coronavirus pandemic not hitting Japan in earnest until a few months into 2020, Riho Takada still served as image girl for the year. By the time 2021 rolled around, though, pandemic protocols and social distancing recommendations were making the photo shoots and in-person promotional appearances associated with the position increasingy difficult to coordinate, and for the first time since Asahi Super Dry went on the market, the brand had no image girl. That’s now going to be the permanent situation, as Asahi has said “We have made a comprehensive decision to abolish [the image girl position],” without further clarification on the specific reasons why at this point.
▼ Riho Takada, the 34th, and final, Asahi Beer image girl.
Though Asahi wasn’t the only Japanese beer producer to employ an image girl, its rivals, Kirin, Suntory, and Sapporo, had already discontinued the marketing strategy, and so with Asahi joining them, none of Japan’s four major breweries will have an image girl any longer.
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