I, Robot, take you 42BELOW, to be my augmented reality wife

Youtube Video42BELOW is the latest company to jump on the augmented reality bandwagon with a new point of sale project it’s calling Fat-boy. And spokeshuman Jacob Pearson says the vodka gang is pretty proud of its new toy.

“Augmented reality takes something very simple, in this case a small pattern on a neck tag, and creates something interactive on a computer display,” he says.

The project has been a few months in the making, with the creative content created by Ilizz (which Pearson says has now shut up its New Zealand shop) and Gladeye. The actual stand was created by Fingermark.

Basically, each flavour that’s waggled in front of the screen sends the holder on a spiritual journey into what the 42BELOW folks call “an alternate 42BELOW world”. And the animations in these parallel universes can be manipulated and controlled with the bottle.

“We wanted something a bit different that hadn’t been tried. We saw it being used overseas and we took it that one step further by making it useful.”

The efforts he had seen, like the GQ magazine cover, didn’t give anything back to the consumer. So as well as delivering an entertaining voiceover and cool visuals, Pearson says the main function of it is that is also offers a short explanation of the products and some suggestions as to what might go well with each flavour (his most common question: ‘what goes with Feijoa vodka?), which means Fat-Boy is basically a sales guy. Soon enough, all 42BELOW staff will presumably be robots.

Pearson says it’s definitely a booze industry first, but he says he was told recently about a stand at the Cannes Lions for Streets where consumers smiled at a camera. If the smile was big enough, they would then get a free ice cream.

Like most augmented reality platforms, the animation side of things is pretty cool, it adds another, more immersive element to the brand and, because AR is still a novelty, it will undoubtedly create a point of difference. As Pearson says, they’ll do anything to get bottles out the door and if this means people will actually pick the bottles up, there’s a better chance of that happening.

But there is still an element of naffery and gimmickry about it, primarily because using a bottle or a magazine as an advanced bar code scanner to gain access to some audio-visual trickery on screen is really only interesting for a short amount of time. Of course, in the early days of the internet, the new technology was exciting, but it lacked utility. That’s obviously changed now. It’s still early days yet for AR technology, but the same evolution could be on the cards. Let’s just hope it doesn’t look like this in a few years.

There’s also a bit of a PR offer and the first five people each day to head down to LiquorLand on The Strand, Parnell, Auckland and buy a 500ml or larger bottle of 42BELOW and have a hoon on the AR screen will receive a free 42BELOW boston shaker or a pitcher.

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