Every year, SXSW brings on many of the same challenges we have seen in the past. Usually these involve a last-minute meeting that has popped up, or a competitor who cannot pull off a show, and we are tapped at the last minute. However, we also encounter unique challenges that we have never seen, allowing us to learn something new we can apply to our solutions. As SXSW 2016 was approaching, we were excited to be challenged with one of the latter and we are proud to have achieved our goal with great success.
Anheuser-Busch decided to celebrate the SXSW experience by taking attendees on a virtual tour of the historic Budweiser Brewery located in St. Louis; the original American brewery which opened its doors for the first time in 1852. It really was an important event for Budweiser and not just because of the marketing value. They really wanted people to get a sense of history about Budweiser in America and how much pride Bud has in their history.
You see, Budweiser is one of a handful of brands launched during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century that has survived to the present. Truly a remarkable feat, when you consider the average corporation lasts about 37 years and none of the original companies (components) comprising the Dow Jones Industrial Average survive today.
In the words of Ron Burgundy, it was kind of a big deal.
Originally designed to use only Samsung VR Gear, each visitor was to wear a pair of goggles and move through a walkway (think of a fun house). The turns recreated the feeling of walking through the brewery, culminating with a frosty pint of Bud at the end of the tour. Most people would go through the tour just for the Bud, but ATX Event Systems President Beau Curtis thought it would be cool if we could do more. He wanted people to feel the entire experience and he decided to tap James Sheeley, one of our producers who is also known as a bit of a mad scientist, to make the experience more…well, real.
“Hey James, I want you and your guys to turn this 3D experience into a 4D experience, okay?”
Sure, Beau. No Problem…
It was kind of like Howard Hughes wanting to fly above the weather…
Other than that, there actually wasn’t a problem, unless you consider the technology necessary to pull something like this off does not exist. So, what do you do? Easy. James went old school.
“We decided to use molfays lights (crowd blinders), a lot of them actually, to recreate the heat in the room where the hops and grains were fired. Then we used cryo-jets to shoot nitrogen vapor, reproducing the cooling effect of the cold storage areas. We brought in real beechwood chips to introduce the Budweiser aging process, and for the hops and grain storage, we wafted several jars of grains and hops by hand to bring the aroma to a highly noticeable level.
As visitors moved through the walkway, they were introduced to each effect and it truly allowed them to experience the tour with all of their senses. We then looped the recording of the tour into a pre-cued mixing board to consistently reproduce the effects flawlessly. It was really cool.”
In fact, the event was so cool that Budweiser flew James and his team to New York to recreate the tour for their entire marketing team. It was truly an honor to do it and it was something James and the team did with a great sense of satisfaction. The best part of all was when ATX Event Systems was given the award for Best Activation of SXSW 2016. Check out the video below to get a better idea of what the tour was like. And if your company needs a truly unique activation experience for your brand or product, please contact us. We can’t wait to put our imaginations to work for you.