We launched the incredible Johnnie Walker brand home

We enabled Johnnie Walker fans around the world to celebrate the opening of its long-awaited brand home in Princes Street in Edinburgh, Scotland. Due to the pandemic, we developed a digital counterpart to the in person launch, bringing the event to whisky fans, regardless of location, via a tailored, immersive digital experience based on Johnnie Walker's ‘Journey of Flavour’ tour. The result? An amazing experience on a global scale, a first for the whisky industry.

The Challenge

To create an immersive environment echoing the physical brand home, adopting the best principles of gaming, together with fusing a more human IRL element into a digital platform for a global audience.

The Approach

Smyle enabled thousands of fans around the world to celebrate Johnnie Walker opening its much-awaited brand home – Princes Street in Edinburgh, Scotland, with a high-definition digital experience, something the drinks industry had never seen before. The pandemic meant that many of those who would have usually traveled to the live experience from around the globe (which we also delivered) could have been left disappointed. That is until we launched our digital experience tailored just for them.

Smyle put together an incredible team of in game writers, story tellers, software architects, 3D / UX / UI designers together with video and post production teams to create this unique experience in Unreal Gaming Engine. Guests could freely move around digital Princes Street to discover the brand’s historic story, interact with games, chat with others and find hidden easter eggs. The digital spaces contained exclusive elements that ensured online visitors had their own unique experience, different to those who attended in person, creating their unique digital Journey of Flavour.

“One off” Johnnie Walker tasting packs were delivered to our online guests and our sustainable drinks pioneer guided everyone through a mixology session that brought the Journey of Flavour to people’s lives all over the world combining IRL with our digital experience.

We brought a sense of true togetherness to the experience as we connected Johnnie Walker fans and friends, new and old across our digital bars with full screen video and stunning views of Edinburgh Castle recreating the real life environment.

Our chatbox for guests and ambassadors also created unique interactions for our visitors from EMEA, Americas and APAC regions, with each ambassador speaking local languages making everyone feel at home.

Smyle’s approach to this event meant online visitors were wholly included and given a first-class experience, meaning that this event was accessible for anyone not able to attend IRL, bringing a corner of Scotland into their rooms, irrespective of which continent they were in.

The Result

The event’s scale was impressive with a truly global audience of VIP customers, press, influencers, brand ambassadors and Johnnie Walker fans from 136 countries: 

  • 3,000 whisky profiles completed pre-event
  • Over 3,300 tickets booked worldwide – EMEA, APAC, the Americas
  • Over 2,000 in-session chats 
  • Over 500 onward visits to JWPS.com

Global launch coverage 

  • Retail sales 43% above target
  • 21,600 social interactions, 1,128 pieces of coverage
  • Johnnie Walker tour attendance exceeded predictions by 173%.
  • 2,509 new social followers 

Smyle’s technical expertise and unwavering focus meant we walked the fine line between creating a memorable online event enjoyed by all, and an experience that left Johnnie Walker fans wanting more.

Johnnie Walker now has the 3D in-game assets with ongoing conversations about how we bring this to e-commerce, creating a more immersive virtual shopping experience delivering additional activation ROI.

“As the dust settles physically and virtually, I wanted to say a massive thank you for all the creativity and passion that you showed as partners when bringing the virtual and physical launch of JWPS to life. […] we are very proud of what we have achieved together.

Thank you so much for your tenacity and for pushing us so that we could create something truly engaging for our teams, customers and partners around the world.”

– Anya Haarhoff, Global Luxury & Retail Director

Life Unstoppable, ‘House of Surprises’

Fusing storytelling and branded entertainment in this interactive e-xperience. This activation allowed viewers to interact as if in a gaming engine, with the quality and storytelling of film and the ability to click to buy throughout the e-xperience.

The Challenge

Provide an innovative launch for Samsung’s newest range of connected products from its ‘Life Unstoppable’ series to engage partners, press and consumers, challenging what is possible with online experiences.

The Approach

After the success of last year’s “Life Unstoppable”, which took more of a game-based approach, Smyle rethought the boundaries of customer experience by implementing a new approach to online consumer engagement. Viewers could watch and shop at the same time, not so much e-commerce but rather “e-xperience”. Samsung also used the e-xperience to maximise reach – overcoming issues of scale inherent with activations limited to a physical location. 

 

Unlike purely physical experiential, in the e-xperience everything is measurable and trackable. From social time spent in the experience, to interactions, to direct sales on brands’ websites. The data was fed directly into Samsung’s CRM providing invaluable insight. The blend of experience and e-commerce allowed us to measure the KPIs, creating a clearer correlation between the objectives and our solution. 

 

The e-xperience was delivered through interactive video. It followed an eclectic family at home, in a Wes Anderson-style film as they used the new Samsung range in ever more inventive ways. The story was stitched together with a series of vignettes that demonstrated Samsung’s innovations, together with an entertaining narrative that drew in the audience. Visitors to the house were guided from room-to-room and vignette-to-vignette, but could also take control of the navigation by clicking on the rooms and products too – fusing the best elements of gaming with filmic storytelling. Products became hotspots and with a click participants could stop the action and deep dive, or jump to the local market Samsung online store to make an immediate purchase. 

The film was shot in a large studios, and stands out because of its heavy art direction and visual style combined with innovative technologies employed. To produce the high quality mini-movie, Smyle drew from its expertise in set design, filming video production, digital production, VFX and motion control. Smyle additionally worked with Free Turn with the film being directed by Jel Groman, responsible for hits such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Daredevils and Born in the Wrong Body.

The Result

Launched in 17 countries across Europe, it delivered a one-of-a-kind customer experience, where people were able to see exactly how products would fit into their daily lives. Smyle blended entertainment, experiential marketing and e-commerce to tailor the launch to consumer’s needs. Additionally, to reach people in this ‘most broadcast to erra’, you have to be creative, you have to find new ways of telling stories, because we’re in experience, marketing, brand and PR. We’re storytellers.

  • 3740 attendees 
  • 60% of viewers watched the full 45 minute show
  • Over 4000 consumers with a 1000 click to buy actions
  • Interactivity stats exceeded averages:
    • 29% active audience share
    • 3.51 Interactions per active viewer

Winner of Best Interactive Event Video at Wirewax Interactive Awards 2021

Winner of Best Brand Experience B2B at Campaign Experience Awards 2022

Wella breaks the internet with the world’s largest digital hair experience

This experience allowed Wella to pivot into digital and reach a wider audience than ever before. To hold the attention of busy hair professionals, we designed an interactive TV-style event with something for everyone. Content was voiced in 11 languages and the entire event was held twice on the day of the event, allowing the global audience to choose a start time best suited to their location. The initial 10,000 viewers target was smashed with over 77,000 registrations, and 25,000 joining on the day!

The Challenge

With IRL events impossible in 2020, we connected hair professional across the world and shared everything wonderful about Wella through a ground-breaking digital event.

The Approach

Accessible to beauty professionals around the world and free to join, the Wella WE Create event allowed the brand to pivot into digital and reach a wider audience than ever before.

To hold the attention of busy hair professionals, we designed an interactive TV-style event with something for everyone. Lots of rich topics, carefully curated, contrasting styles, and short, snappy bite-sized content, all wrapping around longer, more in-depth features. In an innovative move, the event delivered two channels of streaming content, broadcast simultaneously over two hours – with attendees free to skip between channels, or catch anything they missed later by watching on demand.

Involving more than 20 of the world’s most accomplished hair artists, WE Create shared styling transformations, trend insights, hair hacks, business advice and sustainability tips. The event also hosted the International TrendVision Awards, with 7 category gold winners announced live. WE Create also featured two new hair collections, designed during the pandemic by 13 guest artists around the world, collaborating by Zoom to ensure a coherent vision.

To cater to an 86% mobile-first audience, we custom-built our own hosting platform. Content was voiced in 11 languages and the entire event was held twice on Sunday, allowing the global audience to choose a start time best suited to their location.

The Result

The WE Create event was something completely new, setting a new benchmark for the industry. The audience was global. The content was global. And the guest artists were globally renowned, all brought together through WE Create.

With an initial target of 10,000 viewers, over 77,000 ultimately registered, with 25,000 joining the event on the day, generating 66,000 interactions in the chat – and pushing our platform to its limits. A further 10,000 watched material after the event on demand.

National Grid amplifies impact with first ever hybrid investor conference

Smyle partnered closely with National Grid leadership to position the brand at the centre of the energy transition to a critically important audience of investors, media and consumers. This hybrid experience was held live at the ExCeL London for approximately 200 delegates and online using the Bizzabo platform for 600 participants.

The Challange

To position National Grid at the centre of the energy transition.

The Approach

National Grid has a solid reputation but was concerned that a lot of its innovative UK and US energy transformation work was not sufficiently understood. Our solution was to make the company easier to understand, and bring to life the innovation and ‘sexiness’ of this engineering focused organisation.

For its Investor Day in November 2021 we advised that National Grid run a truly hybrid event. This would involve 100 people attending a physical event at the ExCeL in London and a much larger online international audience. Both audiences were to be catered for in an integrated digital and physical experience. 

Research led us to develop the event theme ‘Doing Right Now’. This conjoins the ideas that the company is ‘doing right’ in the energy transition, and doing it ‘right now’. To demonstrate this, we showcased the unsung experts around the company that are making energy transition happen. We also used storytelling about key initiatives as indicative of what the larger business is all about.

Smyle camera crews captured the event in real time, all footage was fed through Smyle’s gallery and managed by its central studio team. Footage was live streamed to the online audience using the latest Bizzabo platform, with interactive elements for virtual participants built into each session. The live audience rotated between three innovative breakout session experiences, and the virtual audience had an exclusive digital-only rotation with a camera and host onsite curating their experience.

The Result

The success of an investor event is both qualitative (the audience regards the company more positively) and quantitative (the investment community promotes it in research advice and/or invests in the company’s stock). While the direct financial impact is hard to discern, we used audience surveying to understand the impact on the perception of National Grid at the centre of the energy transition, as well as perceptions of quality of content and interaction. The hybrid nature of the occasion allowed audiences in the UK and US to become immersed in National Grid’s strategy and performance.

REWRITING THE RULEBOOK WITH BREAKTHROUGH PRODUCT LAUNCH

Smyle transformed Samsung’s physical press Conference, with the first ever use of gaming platform, Unreal Engine, to host a pioneering digital event, setting new standards for virtual launches irrespective of sector.

Over 5000 media, influencers and Samsung partners visited a virtual Samsung House – a hyper-realistic, immersive 3D virtual world, built to demonstrate the latest in mobile, wearable, TV, audio and home appliance technologies.

Partners were able to make themselves at home in the space, then discover and interact with products and Samsung people. The experience was further enhanced with augmented reality (AR), 8D audio and super-hero themed gamification.

By creating the ‘Life Unstoppable’ virtual world, we pushed the boundaries of virtual immersive experiences to find an innovative way to share how Samsung technology defies limits by bringing life, work and entertainment together using products that seamlessly connect with one another.
Benjamin Braun, Chief Marketing Officer, Samsung Europe

With a 293% increase in attendance, compared to 2019’s face-to-face launch, the impressive reach of this event was matched by its positive attendee ratings:

• 5% increase on media sentiment compared to previous year
• Product mentions up 372% on previous year
• Over 300% increase on engagement

Finally, the inclusion of interactive gaming elements meant participants spent 29% longer (dwell time) exploring Samsung products, as part of the experience.

An array of lifestyle and tech press carried the Life Unstoppable story with over 1893 articles written and 909 headlines. Additionally the activation picked up a number of awards including:

The Drum Experience Awards
B2B Experience of the Year

Digital Event Awards
Best Digital Product Launch

V Awards
Best Product Launch

Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches their first ever digital sustainability summit

This two-day virtual event included broadcasting fireside chats, presentation and panel sessions direct from London's Kennington Film Studios, plus key presenters appearing from multiple locations around the world to thousands watching live on YouTube.

To support Ellen MacArthur's circular economy mission, Smyle's Cycle service captured data to record and capture learnings for sustainable reporting to support future sustainable improvements in project delivery.

The Brief

Capture and report Cycle Baseline sustainability data for the virtual Ellen MacArthur Foundation Summit 2020.

Our Approach

This two-day virtual event involved the live filming and broadcast of content at Kennington Film Studios in London, with key presenters, Ellen MacArthur team and Smyle crew working on-site, under strict biosecurity measures.

Our team recorded Cycle Baseline data for sustainability metrics including crew travel and accommodation, material use, equipment provision, transportation and catering. Within the planning, we also reviewed the venue’s environment policy which covered recycling, reuse, energy usage and travel. 

This data culminated in the creation of a Cycle Baseline Report, providing a benchmark for mapping the full sustainability footprint of the Summit activation, including estimated CO2e (greenhouse gas emissions) for crew travel and transport and stats on the % of the equipment, materials and equipment reused or hired. 

The Summit report also highlighted the vital role of venues in sustainability. In this case the event was powered by 100% renewable energy, and our on-site Smyle team monitored how key venue sustainability policies were implemented. 

Cycle Baseline Reports also capture learnings for future action. In this example, biosecurity measures and public transport restrictions resulted in an unavoidable negative impact, for example, limited public transport options for crew, on sustainability, presenting opportunities for further improvement next time around.

The Result

This example of Cycle Baseline Reporting, highlights how Smyle is promoting the sustainability agenda to strive for future improvement. Going forward, tracking core sustainability metrics will be part of every Smyle project, ensuring this becomes part of our mindset and process across core elements of planning and delivery.

For brands like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, sustainability is already a priority, for their Summit event, our 2020 Cycle baseline report provided a benchmark data set, learnings and recommendations to inform direction and decisions about future events and identify opportunities to raise the bar even higher.

Iconic Trend Vision Awards returns in-person and explodes online

We reimagined the famous Trend Vision Awards with a new hybrid approach delivered concurrently to an audience of 1,200 at London's Roundhouse, and broadcast to thousands at home. A stand-out production, a sell-out physical event and 100% uplift achieved for the digital audience - all to rave reviews!

The Challange

Get close to the professional hair community through the competition and to showcase Wella products and services through the whole event – physically, digitally, socially and in trade marketing.

The Approach

As one of the most prestigious awards in the hairdressing industry, the pressure was on for the event itself to be similarly cutting-edge and creative. We took on the content creation, production and creative design of the event. Our goal was to deliver a truly hybrid awards ceremony, one that retained traditional aspects everybody loves but with a new exciting digital dimension added. We did this by keeping the classic elements of the iconic ceremony’s in-person glitz and glamour, and adding a simultaneous specially curated livestream that would do Hollywood proud. The number of people involved was huge: over 150 crew, over 100 artists, stylists, models, makeup artists & wardrobe designers for the collection showcases and 90 models with 180 stylists and assistants for the TVA competition.

The live element of the show was hosted by Fearne Cotton and hairdressing icon, Patrick Cameron, who introduced exclusive collection launches from big brands such as GHD, Robert Eaton, D&J Ambrose and HOB Salons, as well as special guests and a catwalk show. Digital guests not only enjoyed this, but also, during an hour-long broadcast hosted by Radio X presenter Elsbeth Pierce, they enjoyed exclusive backstage footage and interviews with stars of the hairdressing world.

The Result

A sell out physical event and 100% uplift achieved for the digital event. Both in-person and online guests were treated to a night to remember, with exclusive features and new components such as the catwalk show. The concentration of big names and faces drew new crowds and the event’s hybrid platform gave the awards more visibility.

Ferring: Leadership Starts With You

Digital first empowers leader community to deliver ambitious growth strategy.

The Challenge

Enable 500 leaders to re-connect with Ferring’s strategy in a way that inspires and empowers employees to take a transformative vision forward.

The Approach

Entrusted to deliver Ferring’s first ever virtual event, we combined agile planning, creative content and digital expertise to produce a high-value experience.

Faced with fast-evolving Covid restrictions, we ran three concurrent event plans, which eventually culminated in a live studio broadcast from Switzerland, with additional contributors and leaders joining online from every corner of the world.

Working with Ferring, we developed the event theme: Leadership Starts With You. This was explored through a 3-day programme encompassing executive-led sessions, workshops and networking, filled with creative content designed to re-connect leaders with the vision. This included an executive team-created video which told a powerful story of a compelling future.

Workshops and networking opportunities encouraged idea and information sharing, with the ultimate goal of enabling every individual to play their part in delivering the strategy.

Collaboration was key and we ensured seamless delivery by co-ordinating teams, suppliers and speakers across multiple locations – from remote-leading rehearsals with the Swiss studio team, speaker coaching and tech support for contributors, to daily debriefs during the live event to share learnings and plan improvements.

The Result

A successful ‘virtual first’ for Ferring, with nearly 500 leaders participating live, across multiple time zones. Participant feedback was incredibly positive:

  • +90% felt inspired as a result of the event
  • 97% felt the strategy was the right direction for Ferring
  • +80% left with specific actions to apply in their area of responsibility
  • All leaders aim to submit 30/60/90 day action plans within four weeks of the event
I would like to say a huge thank you to the Smyle team for what we have achieved over the past three months. Within an incredibly short timeframe, fantastic teamwork and agile working helped to deliver a first for Ferring; a successful global event that has had a positive and measurable impact on our leaders’ attitudes, beliefs, and actions.

Thanks so much for your collaboration, support, and commitment to solving problems and pivoting plans amidst everchanging COVID-19 restrictions. In the face of a number of challenges, be that content, technical or logistical, we found a way forward together and we truly felt like one team.
Bhavin Vaid - Head of Corporate Comms, Ferring Pharmaceuticals

Samsung Galaxy Launch

Samsung calls the shots with interactive virtual media launch with British singer and songwriter Raye. This launched the new Samsung Galaxy A Series with her performance all shot on Samsung devices.

The challenge

Deliver the first-ever virtual NDA press review for the Galaxy A Series, generating tech and lifestyle coverage stacked with Gen Z appeal. 

What we did

Allowing journalists to experience new phones under embargo allows them to prepare editorial for publishing on launch day. But how to do that virtually? Combining innovation and creative content this launch encouraged participants to ‘call the shots’ by personalising how they interacted with and explored the new Galaxy A Series.

Leveraging the Music Galaxy Thursday partnership between Samsung and Universal Music, we worked with emerging Gen Z artist RAYE to create, film and produce a storytelling narrative. This culminated in a performance of her latest hit and clever product placement ensured RAYE illustrated key A Series features as part of the action. All footage was captured using Samsung mobiles.

Using WIREWAX technology we enabled participants to ‘choose their path’ by opting for different content scenarios, such as selecting RAYE’s performance costume in the opening scenes. 

We also pre-recorded a series of informative launch presentations and Q&As led by Samsung experts. Again, we added additional interactive content, by overlaying WIREWAX hotspots, which users could activate to reveal additional product information.

All this was accessed via a super-intuitive, on brand web platform that curated relevant event content based on different audience needs.

The result

Call the Shots generated 690 articles in total, across the target technology and media titles.

An audience of 470 media contacts generated 2,662 interactive hotspot clicks during the event, indicating a high level of engagement with additional product information.

IMEX: BuzzHub

Maintaining attendee engagement ahead of IMEX America 2021.

The Brief

Use Smyle’s knowledge of virtual events to create experiences that are fun, rewarding and continuously evolving. 

The Approach

With the coming return of IMEX America as a physical event in November 2021 we developed the IMEX Buzzhub. This is a branded online community built using Swapcard – an end-to-end event platform with customisable elements powered by artificial intelligence, along with additional add-on technologies like Gather.town for tailored community experiences.

Everything we did focused on delivering value to event professionals. Speakers, key content and fringe activities and even sponsored elements all added value and kept the audience connected to the IMEX brand. 

The highlights of the campaign were the three ‘Buzz Days’. Each had its own theme (‘Building back better’, ‘Extreme innovation’ and ‘Future focus’) and each was packed with fun presentations, opportunities to interact with speakers and time set aside to ‘just talk’ about areas of mutual interest. In a bid to keep innovating, each Buzz Day had a mix of activities and formats. Participants had choices of what they could do: listen to a thought-leading speaker, ask questions in an intimate Q&A, or join a forum. But it wasn’t all work-focused and enabling authentic human interaction between participants was encouraged. There was even a co-located Buzz Day, where attendees could jump between two entirely different events, and another aimed just at the large German audience – broadcast entirely in German.

The Results

IMEX and Smyle worked in a collaborative way to make the IMEX BuzzHub a success. Over 2,300 professionals registered with 400-800 session views each month. Participant feedback scored an average of 4.5 out of 5 for all content and experiences. The primary goal of the campaign was to keep IMEX front-of-mind and encourage attendance at the November 2021 show in Las Vegas. With 582 BuzzHub participants indicating that the experience positively impacted their likelihood to attend (and lots of content sharing across social channels), we can take at least some of the credit for the 5,000+ that turned up for the main event, which was buzzing with energy. In one final push, Smyle delivered live content from the show floor for BuzzHub virtual participants during the show.

See also

Country House

The Lockhouse,
71 Mead Lane,
Hertford, SG13 7AX

Town House

Albert House,
256-260 Old St,
London, EC1V 9DD

Manchester

Studio 106, SeeSaw,
86 Princess Street,
Manchester, M1 6NP

Amsterdam

Suikersilo-Oost 22,
1165 MS Halfweg,
Netherlands