Budweiser Rally System
Innovative event-based, region-specific advertising
Coordinated effort with Anheuser Busch, Major League Baseball, and individual sports bars
Where they were
Where we took them
Veil Interactive had a concept for a unique advertising system and had established some of the electrical components. They asked Objex to bring the concept to reality and create all the physical components.
Objex designed and created an improved version of the advertising system and helped distribute and manage testing at 50 sites.
The Wind Up
Picture this: you’re at your favorite sports bar watching the Cardinals game. There’re two outs and the Cards are down two with a man on base. Molina is at the plate. He takes a ball then two strikes before he cracks one high into right field. It’s dead silent in the bar as everyone holds their breath. The outfielder is at the warning track… he’s at the wall! He jumps and reaches out to grab… nothing! Homerun! The bar erupts in cheering and applause. And at that moment, as if by magic, the Budweiser tap handle begins flashing like a strobe light and the ceiling lights up as an animation dances across that says “Go Cards! Half price Buds for the next 5 minutes!” Pretty cool, right? Especially if you’re trying to sell Budweiser.
This was the vision that Veil Interactive had, and they came to Objex to help them turn it into a reality. Essentially they wanted a system of three advertising devices—a glowing tap handle, a streaming sign, and a video projector—to go into sports bars around a city and all be triggered simultaneously by specific events in baseball games (and later other sports). They also wanted to give bar owners manual control over the devices so they could run their own promotions. Veil had the rough system and electronics figured out, but they needed us to develop all of the physical devices and help them make 50 sets to test in bars.
The first step was to nail down the electronic components so we could design the interface and housing around them. The original plan was to equip each device with an RBDS receiver that would detect the trigger signal from the sports broadcast. We advised Veil to change tack and use a central receiver that would then communicate with each local device using a cheaper Bluetooth connection. This brought the price down and allowed for a smaller build envelope on all parts. Next, we sourced off-the-shelf components for the sign, projector, and lights. We pulled some existing Budweiser tap handles and figured out different ways to augment them with our components. We worked with our electrical engineering partners at SG Labs to understand the specific requirements of each part of the system.
Rounding the Corner
Converting the scrolling sign was a matter of adding the bluetooth receiver and a custom housing. Next we styled and modeled a housings for the RBDS receiver and designed an idiot-proof manual control. Those were pretty straightforward, but the tap handle and projector were a little tricky. The tap handle required all the same electronics that the other pieces did plus it had to withstand daily abuse by busy bartenders, and it had to abide by Anheuser Busch’s rigid design guide. The final design honors the AB brand language and looks great with the light on or off. To achieve the instant-on, instant-off behavior for the projector, we designed an actuated shutter system. This meant moving parts and more electronics all in a system reliable enough to be mounted on the ceiling and never tinkered with.
Its Outta Here!
When the design was complete we had a system of five working pieces that were beautiful where they would be seen and discreet when they shouldn’t be noticed. Next up was production and distribution. For a few days, all hands at Objex HQ were promoted to production line workers as we assembled, tested, packed, sorted, and shipped 250 individual units to bars all over the test region. With all the systems in place, Veil ran point to coordinate with Anheuser Busch, Major League Baseball, and all of the individual bars. Baseball was played; beer was purchased; fans were happy, and so was Veil. The test went off without a hitch, and Veil had the numbers they needed to pitch the idea for full-scale implementation. So the next time you watch your home team rock one out of the park and the bar lights up with the Budweiser logo, have a beer on Objex.*
*Offer valid in the contiguous 48 states excluding Utah. Offer must be redeemed in person during a regular season home game. Blackout rules apply based on location. To redeem offer present this article to bartender and use the promo code “Dude these guys say I get a free beer.”