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

Salesforce living their values at COP26

We love working with brands who share our passion for doing right in the world, that’s why we were thrilled to work with the wonderful team at Salesforce at COP26 - UN Climate Change Conference. Check out how we created this beautiful (and sustainable!) experience, as well as how our Cycle service ensured the activation had sustainability at its heart.

The Challenge

Create and manage a meeting space with the lowest possible carbon and waste footprint.

Our Approach

Salesforce is committed to sustainability. Not only do they demonstrate climate leadership in the industry, they also help their customers achieve net zero through their products. 

So, the company’s attendance at the COP26 UN Climate Change conference would need to be much more than a superficial brand exercise. Our solution: an event space fit for ‘ecopreneurs’ (including CEO Marc Benioff) to meet with influential COP26 attendees – but one that had the lowest environmental impact. 

To achieve this, we transformed a downtown Glasgow venue called The Spiritualist into Salesforce’s COP26 Lodge. Without fixing anything to walls, floors or ceilings we dressed the room using wood reclaimed from a nearby demolition site. Furniture was rented, not bought, and all food served was a mixture of vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian. Creative signage consisted of messaging routed into the wood panels, and where vinyl applications were used, they were of a recyclable nature. Even the trees and pot plants used to dress the venue were rented locally, and returned afterwards.

Suppliers were vetted for their sustainability practices and were required to minimise the number of truck movements. The Smyle staff all, with the exception of a few, eschewed air travel for the much lower carbon impact railways. 

Local staff and suppliers were used where at all possible.

The Result

Client feedback was universally positive. In line with the vision and goals of the brief, we ensured our operations were as sustainable as possible, including the use of renewable electricity and carbon neutral gas. Crew travel was minimised, as was their carbon footprint. What small amount of furniture that was bought was donated to local charities to extend their lifecycle. In fact, the percentage of materials reused, donated and repurposed on this project was an impressive 93%. The vegetarian food choice alone saved almost half a tonne of CO2 emissions. Such was the savings that the whole event came in 3% under budget – money that was subsequently donated to the charity Global Forest Generation. Cycle baseline event sustainability data was captured by Smyle to help inform future Salesforce events.

By keeping climate action front and center, Smyle and Salesforce's joint-event demonstrated that it is possible to embed sustainable practices from start to finish at events like we did at the Salesforce Lodge at COP26. Smyle's commitment to sustainability ensured that Salesforce event production decisions at COP26 were vetted through a sustainability lens, and provided expert guidance on environmentally-friendly best practices that created a holistic experience for attendees.
Kelly Cowden, Senior Manager, Strategic Events at Salesforce

Leading the way in sustainable experiences

Facebook called on us to support them in creating a World Economic Forum 2020 experience that was humble in tone and rich in content, with a pioneering approach that delivered ambitious sustainability goals.

We developed a comprehensive event strategy that placed sustainability at its core. The resulting custom-built two-story Facebook Pavilion clearly illustrated that sustainable design doesn’t mean compromise; it can be as beautiful as it is responsible.

The Challenge

To support Facebook in creating their presence at the World Economic Forum; a presence that needed to be humble in tone, rich in content, and gentle on the planet. The impact of the project was to be benchmarked against the UN sustainability goals.

The Approach

In 2020, Facebook gave Smyle an amazing opportunity to be at the forefront of new and innovative ways to approach sustainable events. The overall aim was to significantly reduce environmental impacts with a particular emphasis on eliminating plastic waste. This would then create a sustainable benchmark from which future activations at Davos, and indeed other Facebook events around the world, could be measured.

Smyle worked closely with partners, architect Mike Lim, and David Stubbs, a renowned sustainability expert, to design and build an incredible two-story structure in Davos, using specially sourced recycled and repurposed materials – all delivered high in the Swiss mountains, in record time.

The design and project was completely driven by a sustainable strategy – a sensitive architectural design to reduce build time and transport, material choices to reduce environmental impact and reduce waste, space planning and technical designs to both maximise heat efficiency and minimise power and water consumption. Interior finishes were made from 90% wood, with additional panels of 100% recycled plastic, to be reused afterwards, in a fully circular model.

We provided a locally sourced menu with 100% vegetarian options and 35% vegan choices to help reduce our carbon footprint, as well as softer touches such as rugs made from recycled bottle tops. Smyle also delivered a comprehensive Sustainability Report to help our client take learnings from this event and apply these to future live experiences.

The Result

The Facebook Davos presence was hugely successful with a build commended by WEF themselves, for being so forward thinking around sustainability. It resulted in a humble and beautiful, content-driven Facebook brand experience. The entire experience was custom built in a little under two weeks, proving Smyle can work magic at high altitude working into tight turnarounds and tricky logistics – something we’re hugely proud about.

Winners of Best Sustainable Initiative at C&IT Awards 2021

Setting world records with incredible BT brand launch

Combining creativity, innovation and production expertise, Smyle created a highly-entertaining brand launch, generating exclusive content, press-worthly moments, and a world record (powered by BT technology), to launch BT’s new brand to the world, in style.

The Brief

To launch BT’s 5G network and showcase the brand as a global technology player. 

The Approach

Smyle was tasked with helping to tell BT’s new brand story as well as showcasing the Skills for Tomorrow programme – a digital skills training initiative aimed at helping the UK to better connect for the future. 

We partnered with Black Skull Creative and Verity Studios, to create a stellar live show at Wembley Arena, all to be live streamed online. 

The result was an epic world record breaking live experience, with 160 drones performing to a live performance sang by popstar Jess Glynne. Local primary school children were invited to code part of the drone show, whilst ‘Strictly’ host Tess Daly, introduced a world-first preview of BT’s new brand and ad campaign. 

We had to bring a complex set of requirements together in this dazzling live streamed event, in front of a huge real-life and online audience – and we achieved it all with stunning results. 

The Results

Smyle smashed expectations, starting with breaking the Guinness World Record for most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne, indoor, and controlled simultaneously from a single computer. The Wembley Arena event was watched by thousands of guests in the moment, with over 10,000 views on YouTube alone.

Winner of Best Production Experience at The Campaign Experience Awards 2021

Stormzy launches 5G in iconic performance on the Thames

We supported EE to mark their biggest moment since the inception of the brand - the launch of 5G! EE had big ambitions to create an iconic occasion, creating impact in UK press. To do so, we partnered with them to create a unique performance from the UK's favourite rapper, Stormzy, staged on the River Thames against the backdrop of Tower Bridge! The project required bucket loads of imagination along with flawless technical execution of both the in-person experience and live stream (using the brand new 5G network) all beamed to a global community of fans both online and in EE stores around the UK for exclusive screenings.

The Challenge

To create a big noise around EE’s 5G network launch in a busy marketplace.

The Approach

EE wanted to shout about their huge network launch by hosting a mind-blowing public activation on the River Thames – a 5G-powered performance by Stormzy on a floating barge at the iconic Tower Bridge.

This once-in-a-lifetime live show was a chance for Smyle to show off our ability to deliver integrated physical and digital experiences – impacting a live London audience and streaming to a much larger global community of fans.

Smyle worked closely with the M&C Saatchi PR agency, taking care of complicated and jaw-dropping production, involving multiple boats, a split-location workforce and challenges associated with a water-based production. Our technical expertise meant we were able to use 5G technology for a 360 degree 5G live stream for wider amplification.

The Results

We showcased our flawless execution, involving a world-class performer, dramatic pyrotechnics and best-in-class technical delivery. Publicity generated from this live + digital event was exceptional, with thousands of hits on YouTube and social media. EE reported a massive increase in day1 sales compared with the 4G brand launch event. Watch here

50 artists. 6 boats. 1 party.

Red Bull partnered with us to bring to life their very own floatila. A breakthrough and bold concept, we created Red Bull Odyssey - an epic, wandering river adventure, hit the heart of London culture in a completely unique, never-before-seen way. More than 50 artsits, performed to an in-person audience of over 1,500, across 6 individual vessels, each repping a different UK music scene.

This sell-out event was broadcast live to over 60,000 listeners with an huge social reach of over 35,000,000!

The Challaenge

Build the fanbase of Red Bull Radio to reinforce Red Bull’s reputation as cultural influencers.

The Approach

Red Bull approached us with a bold idea to create a live music experience on the Thames. Working together we created Red Bull Odyssey – an epic, wandering river adventure for six vessels – with 50 MCs, DJs and artists, plus a 1,300 strong audience all stowed onboard.

To launch in style, Smyle managed all elements of pre-production design and the live outputs. With six boats representing six music scenes we developed different creative identities for each genre. Our distinct staging set the scene for acts including gospel disco-queen Jocelyn Brown, UK drill hero Loski and MC Ms Banks.

On the day, we stacked the boats high with epic sound systems and set sail. As our buoyant rave cruised past iconic London cityscapes, Smyle launched a giant ‘On Air’ floating LED screen. Using this screen, we beamed live party footage to fans watching from the river bank, whilst Red Bull Radio listeners gained exclusive onboard access from the comfort of their own homes.

The Result

Smyle and Red Bull hit the right notes delivering an unforgettable sell-out night of live musical innovation. With +60,000 Red Bull Radio listeners tuning in live, plus an impressive social reach of +35 million, the Odyssey impact was pretty epic too.

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.

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.

Samsung: IFA

Our experiential agency reveals latest tech at Berlin’s annual trade show

The Challenge

To enable technology industry media to experience Samsung products in a clear and memorable way.

The Approach

Smyle was commissioned to elevate Samsung’s presence at the annual IFA trade show in Berlin with a unique press conference. We developed bold ideas to help participants explore and experience Samsung products in new way , proving we know how to go beyond the traditional press event to bring in fresh thinking and creativity. 

Samsung technology underpinned every aspect of the activation, from registration on mobile devices, ensuring the only thing to greet you are a friendly team, to food served on tablets.

Our brand activations included cool product experiences designed to dazzle delegates with latest Samsung innovations, giving them an up-close look at their leading tech. We also enhanced Samsung’s brand experience by including a range of live performances with audience participation elements, such as street dance performers on treadmills, a beat-boxing contest, and a live Coldplay VR experience.

The Result

We were able to push boundaries and inspire 1600 guests made up of press, bloggers, vloggers and early adopters to learn more about Samsung products. Press coverage from the IFA event generated global headlines for the brand, with our experiential brand activations leading to memorable interactions to surprise and delight audiences.

The activation was also streamed across a number of social channels and Samsung.com to an international audience of media, influencers and consumers.

Facebook: Mobile World Congress

The Challenge

Overseeing the design and build of the Facebook experience at Mobile World Congress for the 3rd consecutive year; a cross-functional space used to share stories about the work of Facebook company whilst providing an inspiring environment suitable for business meetings (across 26 meeting rooms), a lounge space, a 170 seater auditorium, as well as ad-hoc networking.

The Appproach

Working in partnership with the Facebook design team, the cross-functional event space was designed to create a spatial and physical representation of Community with imaginative shapes and forms combining to create spaces where attendees could come together, as well as more private areas for informal meetings, or even nooks where people could take a moment to themselves – an oasis away from an action packed MWC. The forms and shapes created were further used as canvases to showcase stories of extraordinary human expression and the potential, that when supported by Facebook company’s innovation and technology, for communities to be built where they can drive social change.

Smyle provided full-service event support including planning, design and build, technical, logistics, content management and operational support to ensure the smooth running of the activation.

The Results

The multi-purpose space, larger than the Facebook Madrid office, was produced in just a 10-day build, and featured 4 bespoke activation areas from the Facebook portfolio including TIP, Messaging (a joint experience by Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp), Facebook Connectivity and Oculus, as well as a fully operational hosted reception and catering service. During the 4-day MWC show, the space welcomed 2,000 visitors, hosted over 850 meetings and 15 auditorium events.

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