Stella artois black diamond wh

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Client Director Will Hodgess gives his account of 'The Black Diamond', the Stella Artois experience!

Read what he thought about the immersive theatrical experience created to promote Stella Artois Black.

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Stella artois black diamond wh

  1. 1. textStella Artois: The Black DiamondWilliam Hodgess29th July 2011
  2. 2. Personal reactionMr Artois, take a bow. I think the standardfor total sensorial brand activationcampaigns has been set!I came away from the first of the twoevenings (back in early July) impressed.The second, however, has left me trulygob-smacked! Not just at the overallexperience, but the vision of the brand,and the unimaginable amount of planningneeded.The events take a far more personal twistduring the latter stages, and taking thisdecision meant timing was crucial toensure you still make the experienceaccessible to large numbers of people. 3
  3. 3. The brand’s connection with cinemaStella Artois have long used film andcinema as a communication platform fortheir core brand and more recently withtheir growing range of sub brands: StellaArtois Four and Stella Artois Black.This particular campaign was focused onbuilding upon Stella Artois Black’sconnection with film noir and its gritty, dark,wonderfully stylised characteristics. Therelationship between film noir and theproduct summarised nicely by the brand’sstap line: Matured for Longer for a Richer ExperienceAn interesting example of a brand buildingtheir entire personality around film, ratherthan more conventional film sponsorship /partnership activities. 4
  4. 4. Campaign formatConsumers, film-enthusiasts and basicallyanyone who wanted to could sign up forthe campaign which was publicised bytraditional above the line communications,but predominantly online through socialnetworking sites. The story is fullyexplained and supported by the fantasticdedicated website that uses film, musicand a wonderfully dramatic mood to drawyou into the events.http://www.stellaartois.com/blackThe invite was all kept very secretive andmysterious, and simply gave youinstructions to be at a certain - quitebizarre - location at a certain time forscene 1, and the same for the follow upevent a couple of weeks later for scenes2-7. Let the tweeting and social mediahype commence! 5
  5. 5. The storyPioneering theatrecompany Punchdrunk teamed up withStella Artois Black for another commercialpartnership to bring its unique style ofmagical immersive performance to themasses. Following on from last year’s ‘TheNight Chauffeur’, this latest interactivetheatrical focuses on ‘The Black Diamond’,a classic film noir plot full of love,deception and desire putting the spectatorat its heart.Jacque, the hero, wants to propose to longterm sweetheart Cecile, the love, and as asymbol of his commitment he plans to giveher an expensive and rare diamond.However, there are dark forces at workand a thief has other plans for thediamond. The story puts you at the heart ofthe diamond’s meandering journey throughthe dark underworld of 1960’s Paris. 6
  6. 6. Scene 1 – At the houseThe secretive location for scene one, “Atthe house”, was in a back ally inShoreditch, East London. Based in awarehouse that had been convertedespecially for the event into a 60’s Frenchfamily home, every detail had beenpainstakingly considered. From the scoresof handwritten post cards that adorned thewalls, to the candles and ornate lamps thatfelt every bit mid 20th century Parisian.The house was full of people (around 150),made up of, as we later realised, about80% public and 20% actors and actressesin costume but still managing to blend inwell. This created the wonderful sensationof not knowing who was acting and whowasn’t, making the experience all the morereal. 7
  7. 7. Scene 1 – At the house continuedAfter 15 minutes of exploring andwandering around the house with ourperfectly chilled pint of Stella Artois Black,word quickly spread that “she was on herway” and that we were to be quite. Soonafter, a beautiful, glamorous young ladywalked blindfolded up the main staircaseand into the crowded but silent front room.After a mimed count of three, the crowd -coordinated by the planted actors -screamed “Surprise!!”. The French musiccame bellowing out of the radio, partystreamers were let off, wild dancingcommenced and generally the party kickedoff! Over the next 30 minutes we danced,wandered around, and were approachedby three of the main characters. Each ofwhom whole-heartedly engaged with us totell their different accounts of the night. 8
  8. 8. Scene 1 – At the house continuedWhat struck me was the incredible talent ofthe actors, not just in playing their roles, butin being able to adapt their approach and ad-lib depending on the individual’s response.Some members of the audience lookedpetrified when approached, others laughedand played along. Reading the mood of thesituation and acting accordingly makes theexecution of this experience a true art form.With the party in full swing, a desperatelooking man sprints through the crowd andout of the door, knocking revellers from hispath. Seconds later he is chased by Jacque,who then returns back to the party, shoutingwith great anger, “you must have seensomething!” “who was he?”, “where has hegone?”. The party is then called to an abruptend by the official security guards. The crowdwas left confused as to how real this all was.The perfect cliff hanger leading into part two. 9
  9. 9. Scenes 2 – 7 - In the streetsThree weeks had passed but the memory ofthe first scene was still fresh. Again, we’resimply given a location and a time: Old Streetunderground, public telephones, 19.10. Agroup of four of us wait eagerly, gripped withanticipation of what could be about tohappen, although now with a greater sense ofwhat it’s all about – we’re ready for animmersive experience. We couldn’t quitebelieve that there were just four peopleinvolved in this second stage, it felt veryintimate and far more real.A woman instructs us to read a plantedFrench paper (in English) which gives detailof the robbery along with other brilliantlysubtle cues. Just then one of the phone rings,a voice tells us to leave via exit 3 and keepwalking (a note left in the phone’ coin slotreiterates the instructions). We do as we’retold and walk along a busy pavement. 10
  10. 10. Scenes 2 – 7 - In the streets continuedBefore you know it a hand grabs your armwith force and firmly says “don’t look at me,don’t speak, look at the ground and keepwalking”. Two of us are lead down a backstreet (whilst the other two are taken in adifferent direction), we’re instructed to standwith our face against some red shutters.These are lifted to reveal a warehousecontaining the same car from scene one witha sheet over the windscreen.The menacing actor then sets aboutdemanding that we give him “the money”, themoney we later found out was for his brotherin exchange for the diamond. Just as theinterrogation was getting heated the man’sbrother arrives with our two fairly startledlooking friends. He’s clearly the muscle andspends the next 5 minutes eyeballing andgenerally intimidating us to try and get thismoney we’re supposed to have – intense! 11
  11. 11. Scenes 2 – 7 - In the streets continuedIt’s pretty full-on and you had to frequentlyremind yourself it wasn’t real life, againincredible acting skills make it a heart-poundingexperience. The brothers argue and go theirseparate ways. The covered car then starts itsengine and a voice instructs us to get in theback and keep our heads down.As we’re driven across East London (see routeon right) we’re briefed by the driver that we willbe attending a cabaret show and that we needto keep our eye on a certain small black boxthat contains the elusive diamond. As we arrivewe’re greeted by a quirky, eccentric man whosays “so you will be dressing Miss Lolatonight?” we nod and are led through a cabaretbar and into a dressing room where the sultryLola awaits us. As she gets ready for her finalperformance she clasps the diamond and tellsus a story of her unrequited love for a man,before kissing us both on the cheek. 12
  12. 12. Scenes 2 – 7 - In the streets continuedShe takes to the stage and sings her heartout to an audience of around five people,again an incredibly intimate experience. Oncefinished she wanders over to her love interestand kisses him whilst subtly also passing himthe diamond. The same diamond we havebeen instructed by the menacing driver to notlet out of our sight! The man leaves and Lolatakes to the stage to say a final goodbye.We’re back outside and into the car.Predictably the driver is not happy we don’thave the diamond, but offers a solution. Weneed to go to a house where he knows it willhave been taken and steal it back – we’regiven a note with specific instructions. Again,with head in hands we’re driven across town.Whilst in the car the Parisian radio stationcuts to a news broadcast which talks of thediamond theft and the possible suspects, alladding to the story’s complexity and intrigue. 13
  13. 13. Scenes 2 – 7 - In the streets continuedWe arrive at the house where we have beentold we need to commit the robbery as theowner is out for a short period of time. As thefour of us sneak through the doors we areapprehended by a stranger in the dark of thehouse, “There has been a change of plan,she is here, but we still need to get thediamond”. We’re each handed a small torch,and assigned rooms to check. I was given thestudy on the fourth floor.The note we received in the taxi leads us to astatue of a dog and a four digit code aroundits neck. Sneaking into the study in the pitchblack I find the dog and retrieve the code. Atthis point the owner realises there issomeone in her house and rings her lover.Our time is limited and the man leading usshows us to a room with the safe containingthe diamond. 14
  14. 14. Scenes 2 – 7 - In the streets continuedWe’re all stood around as I hurriedly enter thecode into the combination lock. Just as itfinally opens we hear a scream, the alarmgoes off and the lights come on. “Run!”shouts the man, so diamond in hand andarmed with alarming amounts of adrenaline,the five of us hurtle down the staircase andout onto the street.We’re then instructed to keep calm and walkso as not to draw attention to ourselves. Wefollow him up the road where we are met byJacque, who is thrilled when he is given thediamond. The other man vanishes and weare handed two black helium filled balloons,this was confusing but by now we weregetting quite used to things being confusing.Jacque looks excited and beckons us tofollow him to a hairdressers where Cecile isclearing up after her days work. 15
  15. 15. Scenes 2 – 7 - In the streets continuedOne of the group is instructed to go in andask for a haircut, another goes into to distracther whilst Jacque puts the lights out. Helights some candles and puts on a specialsong of theirs. When her back is turned I giveJacque the sign, he walks over embraces herand gives her the diamond. They share a kissand again the quality of acting convinces youthey are genuinely in love.They lead us out into the street and take theballoons from us. They point us towards thepublic phone and suggest we look into thechange slot. In there is a note which simplyreads “fin”. They walk to the end of the road,look back at us, let the balloons float away,wave and vanish. We look at each other indisbelief at the what we have just been a partof. The most impressive part…scenes 2 - 7took just 50 minutes from start to finish. Wow! 16
  16. 16. Closing thoughtsI feel lucky to have been a part of the StellaArtois Black Diamond Experience. From apersonal experience I found it incredible.From an effectiveness perspective for thebrand I must say I’m undecided…On the one hand I see it as a wonderfulvictory for quality over quantity. Reaching asmall number of people with a rich, impactful,quality message, over simply reaching agreat quantity of people with more traditionaltypes of communications. There is no doubtthat the 1,500 (approx) people thatexperienced what I did will preach it like thegospel. However, on the other hand I can’thelp to question how much of an impact thatwill have on a larger scale on people’s intentto purchase the product and engage with thebrand. In my opinion it will need significantsupport from traditional media to ensure themessage reaches the masses. 17
  17. 17. Thank youIntellectual propertyPlease note that the contents of this document are for demonstration,comparison & review and may not be reproduced in any way.ConfidentialityThe contents of this proposal are strictly confidential between Design Bridgeand the company to whom the proposal is addressed, and may not be sharedwith any other party without Design Bridge’s permission.

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