Interview with Jamie Fleming from Purple Creative
Purple Creative created in collaboration with Wolf In Motion the interactive VR experience ‘Glenfiddich Virtual Infinity‘ . Jamie Fleming form Purple Creative kindly agreed to support this project by answering a few questions passing on their experience and feedback they gained using VR with Whisky.
The VR experience was interactive. Did you intend people to taste a dram of the whisky before or during the experience?
Jamie: ‘Our ‘Glenfiddich Virtual Infinity’ VR experience took place in a GTR (Global Travel Retail) environment, so there were many legalities and rules to follow. The experience was created so travellers could try the dram first, have a moment to reflect on what they tasted, then put the VR headset on and ‘write’ their tasting notes in a virtual warehouse world. We were not allowed to give the dram to guests while they had headset on.’
What was the target audience for this project (age, novices in whisky or experts and other specifics)?
Jamie: ‘Our target audience is the same for the whole Glenfiddich brand – 30-55 year olds, mostly male, who have a maverick attitude, are curious about new experiences and whisky, and are adventurous. The only difference is that our particular target, in GTR, will have more time on their hands and therefore more willing to experience something unique. ‘
What was the goal of this project?
Jamie: ‘Our objective was to give travellers an immersive, bold and unusual brand experience in the GTR environment – to get them to spend quality time thinking, exploring and discovering the Cask Collection. To see for themselves how exceptional and innovative the whiskies were.’
If you were able to gain any feedback, how did the audience perceive the usage of VR technology with whisky?
Jamie: ‘By all accounts, the audience was very receptive to using VR. It was never meant to be a mass market thing (it’s not for everyone) – only for the curious and more maverick consumers. Personally we love the juxtaposition between the traditions of the whisky category and the futurism of the VR technology – they can go hand in hand and change perceptions.’
Did you gain any other feedback?
Jamie: ‘Without giving away exact sales figures, our VR experience increased trial and sales of Cask Collection in all airports where it was sited, sometimes by as much as 800%. It was very successful!’
Would you say the experience was a separate (additional) experience from the whisky itself or did it enhance and merge with the whisky drinking experience?
Jamie: ‘The technology particularly enhanced the experience in GTR, where it’s normal to sample whisky from a tiny plastic sample glass (not a very poetic or romantic) – it added a bit of curiosity and genuine excitement to a standard tasting session. It adds theatre to drinking Glenfiddich! The experience also enhanced the modernity of Glenfiddich, trying to get away from it being perceived as a ‘traditional’ or ‘old-fashioned’ whisky. If it goes some way into getting people to understand that Glenfiddich are innovative and experimental, then job done. The integration of VR elements is crucial for the experience – it needs to be seamless and have a ‘point’ to the theatre. By allowing guests the freedom to write their own tasting notes, they were able to experiment and enjoy the process – just like our Malt Master when he was creating the Cask Collection series.’
Do you think the whisky audience is ready and open for this kind of technology or is it just suitable for a specific target group?
Jamie: ‘The audience needs to be in the right frame of mind for VR. It worked particularly well with us in GTR because guests had real time on their hands – and it wasn’t a highly-intensive sales environment. There’s also still a novelty about VR, especially in whisky. It’s obviously more accepted in the gaming industry, by younger tech-savvy target, but yet to be fully adopted, tried or utilised in the luxury drinks sector. ‘