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Vending machine marketing deal for Harris Tweed

"ONE white coffee, please." "Certainly, and would you like a cloth that has been hand woven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra, to go with it?"

"ONE white coffee, please." "Certainly, and would you like a cloth that has been hand woven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra, to go with it?"

It's the sort of bizarre conversation that could be become quite common on the streets of Japanese cities, thanks to a highly original marketing initiative for Harris Tweed.

Street vending machines selling coffee, both hot and iced, are common throughout Japan and one of the most popular brands is Georgia Mountain Emerald Blend, which is part of the Coca-Cola family of products.

In a promotion which has just launched, anyone buying a can of Georgia Mountain Emerald earns a Harris Tweed point.

Three points allow them to enter a draw for one of 32,000 pairs of Harris Tweed touchscreen gloves, while 30 points puts them into the draw for one of 4000 Harris Tweed jackets.

Ian Angus MacKenzie, chief executive of Harris Tweed Hebrides, said: "This came out of the blue and we were asked to turn around a substantial order within a short timescale, which we managed to do.

"It is certainly a new way of marketing Harris Tweed and the fact they are part of the Coca-Cola group makes it even more interesting for us.

"There is obviously a lot more potential for co-operation if this promotion goes well."

The Georgia coffee brand was introduced by Coca-Cola (Japan) in 1975 and now sells twice as many cans as Coke itself in Japan.

The brand has expanded into other markets including South Korea, India and Singapore.

Shawbost-based Harris Tweed Hebrides was this year named Textile Company of the Year at the UK Fashion and Textile Awards in London and was recently given the Ambassador of the Year accolade at the Scottish Fashion Awards.

Former UK Trade Minister Brian Wilson, who chairs Harris Tweed Hebrides, said: "Japan is now our main export market and a promotion of this kind confirms the status of Harris Tweed as an aspirational product. Apart from being a good order, it makes for high-profile advertising for Harris Tweed in Japan and, we hope, other markets".

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