RA Sushi Teams with Chemistry to Create First of Its Kind Alcohol-Infused Sushi Roll

The campaign reinvents an exciting rite of passage – the 21st birthday – and puts a new spin on how people can celebrate with both alcohol and food.


The following interview was conducted with Celeste Hubbard, Group Account Director at Chemistry, who worked on the RA Sushi project. 

Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

I am Chemistry’s Group Account Director on the RA Sushi account so, I oversee all aspects of the account including general account management and strategic direction for the brand.

Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

This year marks RA Sushi’s 21st year in existence as the only nationwide sushi chain in America. It only made sense to mark this momentous occasion with a special birthday celebration that marries the cultural significance around 21st birthday celebrations with an innovative product offering that is indicative of the creative sushi rolls that RA is known for.

This year was the perfect opportunity for Chemistry to pitch RA Sushi with the idea to develop an alcohol infused sushi roll. The RA Sushi Food and Beverage team ran with the concept and created the Spiked Sake Roll which is available at all 22 RA Sushi locations for the entire month of October.


Tell us about the creative brief, what did it ask?

The brief for this campaign asked our team to develop a campaign that would increase brand awareness and subsequently in store traffic by leveraging the cultural significance of 21st birthday celebrations with RA’s celebration of their 21st year in business.

Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

21st birthdays are the most widely celebrated birthday in American culture and more than ever customers are attracted to brands that seek to make impressions vs buying them.

This is the perfect opportunity for RA Sushi to launch an activation, tactic or PR worthy idea that leverages the significance of the 21st birthday and drives affinity for the brand.

Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?  

We pitched several other ideas including in store parties/events as well as street level stunts and activations to garner attention. Ultimately, this idea was selected because it was scalable across all 22 RA Sushi locations and it felt the most authentic and ownable to the brand.

How did the client initially react to this idea?

They loved it, right away. Everyone from leadership on down has been excited about sharing this offering with the customers and fans of the brand.

What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development?

The greatest challenge was developing a design look and feel for the campaign without knowing what the roll would look like. Once the client agreed to proceed with development of a new product offering, it took 2 -3 months to refine and approve the recipe. Once rough images of the final roll were shared with us, our creative team had to adjust the campaign look to work with the unique checkerboard styling of the roll.

What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

We learned a great deal about product development and the R&D required to create a new dish with ingredients that are typically consumed together but not infused together. Learning about the process was a fantastic learning experience and has opened up the doors for future collaborations between agency and brand.

Where do you see this campaign going in the future?

Ultimately, this campaign has a limited shelf life but we hope the success of the Spiked Sake Roll could set the stage for it to return to LTO menus in the near future.