Macallan distills whisky into AR via immersive art gallery
- The Macallan, a Scottish spirits brand, is using Microsoft HoloLens technology to offer an immersive experience built around its two 12-year-old whiskies through augmented reality (AR), according to a press release by the company.
- The AR installation features interactive art pieces that take the viewer on a virtual journey through American and European oak forests, where Macallan sources the wood for its whisky casks, and through the process of the company's whisky-making process. Gallery 12 launched in New York and will travel to Miami, Chicago, Houston and San Francisco this fall.
- Macallan also created a downloadable AR app that uses Apple's ARKit platform for iOS 11. The brand aims to use the app to teach consumers about Macallan's whiskies at the exhibit and at home, liquor stores and bars, per the release.
Macallan's latest effort is based on consumers' curiosity in emerging tech and their desire to learn the backstory of a classic spirit. Drinkers of single-malt scotch are often passionate fans and the brand is betting they will be interested in finding out more about how its products are made. The strategy also serves as a way to directly connect with people around the country and generate brand buzz through a fun and insightful experience. While the out-of-home effort relies mainly on the use of HoloLens — a pricey headset that most consumers don't currently own — it's also enlisted a mobile app to make the experience more accessible to a wider network of consumers.
What attracts marketers to AR and VR is the opportunity to provide richer, more immersive storytelling experiences than traditional content. For Macallan, the exhibit transports viewers out of the gallery and into oak forests to get a better understanding of the brand's history.
Temporary activations like Macallan's have been a popular marketing tactic this year, even as much of brands' marketing budgets are being put toward digital experiences. Overall, experiential marketing with a dash of innovative tech can help marketers break through with consumers who are tired of traditional static ads.
Although Macallan touts its Gallery 12 exhibit as one of the first times a spirits brand has tapped the cutting edge HoloLens technology, alcohol brands are actually one of the more enthusiastic early adopters of virtual reality (VR) and AR experiences. Spirits giant Diageo has used VR for several Johnnie Walker promotions, including an immersive view into a drunk driving accident as a public service message. In June, Rémy Martin used HoloLens technology for an AR campaign designed for luxury retail stores and events around the world. Most recently, Patrón debuted an AR mobile app to show consumers how its tequilas are made and to provide guidance on at-home tastings.