Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stella Artois: Marketing a Fine Beer with a Very Cinematic Website

Hey, another first for Film Flap! Someone actually contacted me about a web promotion, and asked me to check it out! Matt, representing French beer brewer Stella Artois, shot me an email about this blog, saying I "have a nice easy way with prose and the sometimes irreverent tone is spot on". After all that flattery, how could I refuse his invitation! He even sent me some swag! I could really get used to this.

Anyway, I was allowed a sneak peek (everything should be live today) at the new Stella Artois website, which uses a combination of classy cinematics, smooth animation, and detailed minigames to keep the visitor busy, all while teaching about a fine beer and what makes it that way. It's a very immersive experience that is worth investigating, even if you never plan on pressing a beer glass to your lips (like me). There is something here for any web marketer, and if you plan on getting the word out about that film you're making, this site could give you a lot of ideas.

Half the fun of the Stella Artois site is the Alternate Reality Game feel of it all. There are some basic instructions, but much of the time you are figuring it out as you go. As you enter the history section (Le Courage), you are presented with five minigames in which you are given a task to accomplish, but not told how. Some simple mousing around will solve all your problems, but these CGI-live action composites are so fun, you may want to screw up just so you can see what happens. You'll also get educated on this history of this fine beverage (although what is fact and fiction is up to you to dechiper), and where it came from.

If you are looking for more of a challenge, you can find that in Le Defi (Challenge a Friend), which pits your wits against a Rube Goldbergian trap that keeps you from your beloved beer. Here you'll have to solve a series of puzzles in order to have access to a glass of Stella Artois. Some are easy, some are hard, but all use excellent computer animation and sound to enhance the experience. Very well done.

My favorite game is the "Pour a Perfect Stella Artois" segment that puts you in the character of a stranger walking into a bar. You ask the barkeep for a Stella Artois, and he merrily commends your choice. You must then guide him in the various steps to creating that perfect combination which includes glass, pouring angle, slicing off the head, and more (don't turn your back on him). If you get confused, you can always review "The Pouring Ritual" for help, but it's a lot more fun to watch the bartender and customer react to your different choices.

There is also a multimedia section that will let you run through all of the Stella Artois TV spots, and they are also well done (you can see where the website gets its inspiration). I don't know anything about this beer, but judging from the way it's promoted (everyone apparently really wants one), it must be fantastic. All the spots are in French, but watch the body language and the facial expressions of the actors, and you'll get the idea.

I really like this kind of promotion. Stella Artois obviously spent a ton of cash developing games, hiring actors, and composing set pieces. Every dollar (Frank?) is up there on the computer screen, and it's impressive. It's a testament to what can effectively be done with this medium, and an inspiration to others who might want to do the same.

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