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Finnegans Brew Co. is 'Taking On the System' with Augmented Reality Super Bowl Ad

A Minneapolis-based beer-making nonprofit is incorporating augmented reality and virtual beer to cut promotional costs during the Big Game.

Finnegans Brew Co. is 'Taking On the System' with Augmented Reality Super Bowl Ad
Photo by Finnegans Brew Co.
With the help of augmented reality and a few (thousand) pints of virtual beer, Finnegans Brew Co., based in Minneapolis, is planning on “taking over” television sets across the country.
 
In light of the hometown Super Bowl, Finnegans collaborated with Minneapolis-based Martin Williams advertising agency to create the Finnegans Big Game TV Takeover app — a unique solution around the millions of dollars required for commercial spots during the Big Game. The app, through the use of augmented reality’s latest developments, will allow users to view the advertisement on their TVs through their smartphones and tablets, simply by pointing them at the screen.
 
If the effort is successful, Finnegans will air its ad — complete with audience interaction and three-dimensional arms handing out free virtual beer — on TV screens before, during, and after the big game without paying a cent for a commercial slot during the game.
 
“Since the current rate to advertise during the big game is approximately $5 million for a 30-second slot, and we don’t have a media budget since we donate 100 percent of our profits to people in need, we knew we couldn’t share our message in the traditional sense,” Jacquie Berglund, CEO and co-founder of Finnegans, told Twin Cities Business. “Luckily, AR technology let us reimagine what is possible.”
 
According to its website, Finnegans is “the first beer company in the world to donate 100 percent of its profits to charity” and proudly boasts the mission of “turning beer into food.” The local brewing company has executed this mission by partnering with food banks around the Midwest — donating its profits with the goal of buying produce from local growers, filling food shelves, and, ultimately, feeding local families.
 
Since its not-for-profit nature prevented Finnegans from building up any sort of extensive media budget, the company had to find other avenues for getting its charitable message across during the promotion-heavy Super Bowl week — hence, the idea for the TV Takeover app was born.
 
Although the app provides a creative solution to what can be a complex problem of advertising during the Super Bowl, the idea doesn’t come without its challenges. Unlike the Bud Light and GoDaddy commercials that are sure to grace TV screens on February 4, Finnegans’ ad won’t be automatically placed in front of people’s eyes. Instead of sitting back and watching, audiences will have to make the effort to download and run the app — a two-step process that some experts think might not be worth making.
“Usually consumers really have to be into your brand if you are asking them to engage in a two-step process to view something you think is cool,” said Steven Wehrenberg, faculty member with the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. “And then this kind of idea appeals to early adopter types, who are a segment of all beer drinkers. Not everyone is into high tech.”
 
According to Wehrenberg’s colleague at the Hubbard School, assistant professor Claire Segijn, Finnegans is on the right track with the novelty of the augmented reality technology, but the technology alone may not be enough to meet consumer needs.
 
“The AR app needs to have an entertaining value and a functional value [for the consumer],” Segijn told Twin Cities Business. “However, most apps only focus on the first element (entertainment). That in itself is not enough for people to use the app and for them to keep using the app.”
 
This functional value can be addressed, Segijn says, through incentives. Whether it is an explicit incentive, like a raffle or an entrance into a sweepstakes, or an implicit one through the use of sharing photos and videos on social media platforms, Finnegans needs to make the experience worthwhile to the average consumer, she said.
 
Segijn isn’t the only one who’s recognized these potential issues with the campaign. Berglund, who co-founded Finnegans in 2000, is well aware of consumers’ need for sufficient incentives, and although Finnegans is breaking into the realm of AR come February 4, Berglund isn’t changing her product.
 
“Not only will people get to experience someone on TV reaching out into their living room and handing them a beer,” Berglund said in an email, “the app also gives users the ability to place unlimited virtual beers wherever they please, which could really come in handy for anyone who runs out of beer during the game.”
 
What the app’s success will come down to, Segijn says, is the functionality of the virtual beer incentive — if a digitized IPA will cross from the entertaining realm into the functional. People need to know they’ll be gaining something more than just entertainment. If Finnegans can accomplish this, though, Segijn thinks it can be mutually beneficial.
 
“People want to get something out of using such an app,” Segijn said. “[This could happen] by creating a social reward. For example, when it would be possible to make pictures or videos with the virtual beer and share it on social media or with friends. That kind of exposure can make it interesting for people to use. In addition, it creates additional exposure for the brand.”
 
The Finnegans Big Game TV Takeover is currently available via the Apple App Store and Google Play.
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