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By Laura Ness

Peter Oberdorfer
Peter Oberdorfer

What are customers looking for in wine packaging that most wineries are ignoring or missing at this point? Simply put, it’s the story. Says Peter Oberdorfer, founder and President of Tactic, “When consumers are considering wine brands, one way that they differentiate them from one another is their story. This is often a quick interaction on the retail shelf, and thus the label is an important element, as it is the first ‘point of identification’ for a prospective consumer. Having the ability to actually have these wine labels come to life, and tell stories further engages users, encouraging deeper connections to the brands, encouraging sharing of stories, returning to the brand, etc.”

Oberdorfer will share his insights in using Augmented Reality (AR) in wine packaging to enhance consumer engagement at the 8th annual WIN Expo at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on December 5, and he gave us a teaser on the topics he’s planning discuss. “In terms of consumer packaging, I am going to talk about two aspects that really have a lot of potential: mobile apps featuring AR tech, and web apps featuring AR tech. Both are closely aligned, and have many potential uses and implementations. I will describe how we’ve been able to create successful campaigns that help grow brands and engage users using AR technology, and how we see this tech growing in the future.”

Treasury Wine Estates is one company that went all in on storytelling augmented reality packaging with the release of 19 Crimes, a head-turning debut for the wine world that brought the stories of British criminals deported to Australia to life. With a clever app, called Living Wine Labels, each criminal tells the story of their lives, and in so doing, educates the smartphone holder about the Australian wine on which their mugs appear.

Who was behind this genius move? Oberdorfer’s Tactic, a San Francisco-based design firm specializing in augmented and virtual reality projects within the wine, spirits and other consumer industries. The firm has created experiences for The Walking Dead, Jack Daniels Old No. 7, and Midnight Moon moonshine, among many others.

Oberdorfer did some early versions of branded AR for companies in 2013/14, when the market for branded AR content was quite niche. Then, in early 2017, things changed. “When 19 Crimes contacted us via their agency, J. Walter Thompson, they initially were asking for a dual experience, with a short 360 movie, and a small AR activation as an add-on option within the same app.”

He had a slightly different idea. “I had the crew at Tactic make a small sample of a head moving on the label of a bottle, and once I showed that to the brand team, that was it. They dropped the VR/360 component, and went fully into the potential of AR. That campaign took off in an explosive way, with thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands of app users, eventually adding up to over 4 million sessions on the Living Wine Labels app, across multiple brands, dozens of wine products, and 700 million+ impressions! 19 Crimes saw a 104% y-o-y increase in sales as a result. This created demand both within the wine industry for similar ‘talking labels’ AR experiences, as well as in other consumer goods, which we service as an AR agency today.”

Smart Packaging

Asked about the 19 Crimes concept, he explains that they collaborated with the creative team at J Walter Thompson, which was led by Sean Dallas Kidd. “Our group serving as Creative Technologists, enabling and curating the use of AR within the storyline for the brand. Their team was able to create the scripts for the characters, and Tactic cast the actors for the voices for the parts, created the imagery, and produced the visuals for the experience. This was based upon the initial prototype test created at Tactic. As the experience expanded, we worked directly with Treasury Wine Estates for many of the additional 19 Crimes experiences, as well as with other brand teams within the Treasury portfolio.”

TWE continues to employ the technology with other brands, including The Walking Dead TV series, with a zombie breaking out of the bottle, and the bourbon-barrel-aged wine project under the Beringer Brothers label, that takes you back in time.

We asked Oberdorfer what a wine package needs in order to be successful with AR. He told that while each concept and brand is unique, he sees several common features that contribute to successful experiences:

Brevity + Variation– Each experience is brief, but can be re-viewed with new chapters, segments or parts for variation on re-viewing on subsequent visits.

Seamlessness– Whenever possible, we try to blend from reality to augmented reality as seamlessly as possible, with the transition being integrated with ‘real life’ as much as possible, to promote wonder, magic and a suspension of disbelief.

Interactivity- This can be triggered by proximity, user input, reactivity to the users direction, gamification, etc. …all these go towards user engagement via breaking the “fourth wall” as much as possible.

Story– It’s always helpful to have a sense of narrative, story, or character within the experience for users to connect with.

Fidelity- The visuals should be well crafted, and anchored to the scene. The experience should be optimized to the device for easy playback and ease of use.

Asked whether there’s a big future for AR in all segments of the market, or just at certain price points, Oberdorfer provided this illuminating quote from Search Engine Journal: “Deloitte identified that almost 90 percent of companies with annual revenues of $100 million to $1 billion are now leveraging AR or VR technology. For smaller firms, a poll conducted by Purch revealed that 10 percent of marketers utilize AR, and 72 percent are planning to in the coming year. Given that both Apple and Android devices are being purpose-built as AR devices, as announced in their rollouts of flagship products such as the iPhone 11, the Pixel 4, and rumored head mounted devices from Google Ventures backed Magic Leap, and an upcoming 2020 rumored AR device from Apple… the outlook for growth in branded AR experiences is expected to be very strong in the coming months and years.”

Looking to the future, where does he think AR is going? “As we see Apple moving towards releasing their pending AR glasses, likely by the end of 2020, and as AR has become a standard feature set in all smartphones today, and as we see all the major social media platforms adapting AR platforms—on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat—and as we see high fidelity AR experiences available directly over the web in many instances, audiences will use AR as an added ‘layer’ of experience in their everyday lives. In a retail environment, consumers will be able to look at store shelves and can access experiences and information about the brands in an interactive and experiential way more and more.”

Augmented reality is not just here to stay, according to Oberdorfer it’s here to be heard, seen, employed and enjoyed. “Augmented reality is in an exciting stage, and new technology and techniques are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” he says.

The Smart Packaging; Engaging with Consumers Like Never Before panel at the WIN Expo will also feature Ginelle Cloar, Innovation Manager / Bogle Vineyards, Marissa McCollum, Marketing Manager / The Wine Group, and Christine Moll, VP of Marketing / O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, who will share their companies’ experiences with smart packaging. To learn more and register for the session visit www.wineindustryexpo.com.

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