Jim Beam and Dos Equis have been quick to embrace the trend
Sip on a nice glass of bourbon and enjoy some friendly conversation or tell all your friends about a slippery slide of bourbon you experienced at your local bar? That is the question some marketers have been asking as advertising agencies dip their toes into virtual reality experiences.
We have reported about marketers launching event branded entertainment utilizing virtual reality at New York Auto Show and even this past weekend at Coachella. Continuing on this trend of elevating brand experiences with immersive technology sits the latest campaign in one of the last places you would expect it. This place, often sacred to many, is your local watering hole and we may soon be frowning at patrons wide mouthed and staring into an Oculus Rift instead of the normal annoying habit of glancing at their phone.
According to AdWeek, Jim Beam is introducing their latest in-bar virtual reality entertainment to hopefully capture the undivided attention of drinking age millennial consumers in a crowded and busy bar.
In collaboration with Geometry Global, the in-bar virtual reality campaign is set to promote Jim Beam Devil’s Cut. Devil’s Cut is a part of the bourbon process named after a portion of bourbon escapes through the walls of the barrel while it is made. The portion that gets trapped in the barrel is known as Devil’s Cut.
Jim Beam is setting up Samsung GearVR headsets at 250 bars in 16 U.S. markets like New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Orlando this year that will be used during 750 sampling events.
The minute-long virtual reality experience transports sampling event patrons into a flowing river of glistening bourbon inside of a barrel. Much like the feeling you get from a VR roller coaster, the video ride takes you through the barrel and swirls you around to replicate the aging process, eventually being catapulted out of the barrel like a bullet from a gun. During this entire experience, Jim Beam reps waif a piece of paper soaked in bourbon under your nose to add that extra smell-o-vision experience.
Is In-Bar Virtual Reality A Growing Trend?
The latest Jim Beam virtual reality experience falls on the heals of Dos Equis and Fire Eater who both had their own in-bar entertainment experiences for patrons.
Dos Equis participants were able to try on an Oculus Rift headset and watch a three-minute 360 degree video showing a party scene with a cheetah and no other than the Most Interesting Man in the World spokesman himself.
In addition to Dos Equis, Brown-Forman developed a virtual reality experience last year in English University towns to launch their cinnamon-flavored liquor called Fire Eater. In collaboration with digital agency Critical Mass, they created an immersive experience that transported people into the fantastical 19th century circus world of Fire Eater, bringing to life “The Greatest Shot on Earth” campaign. Once patrons strapped on the Oculus Rift headset, they began the tense climb to the top of a high-board diving platform, falling through three rings of fire before plunging head-first into a tiny pool of water. Experiential production company Inition and fashion advertising photographer Tim Bret Day also helped create the visual Oculus experience.
Matt Kwiecinski, managing director at Critical Mass added, “So much alcohol marketing these days has become beige and functional. ‘Drink it with this mixer.’ ‘Why not try it over ice?’ With Fire Eater we saw a chance to create a campaign that was about emotion and excitement. Creating an incredibly rich world for the brand, in a way that hasn’t been done in this category.”
Can Virtual Reality Replace the Beer Coaster?
Although there are a ton of regulations and rules that alcohol marketers must adhere to, bringing patrons into a branded immersive experience is one that may leave a lasting impression and resonate with the growing segment of tech-savvy millennial.
Yes, the virtual reality experiences from Jim Beam, Dos Equis, and Fire Eater may look ridiculous and out of place within a bar environment right now. However, the upcoming consumer headset releases from Oculus, HTC, and Sony appear imminent sometime late this year and the potential of consumers taking this experience with them back home, maybe over a drinking game, might keep consumers asking for virtual reality refills from more brands in the future.