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How SingleCut Beersmiths made sweet music with its Notes IPA on-can campaign

Notes IPA became the first beer crafted to actually teach drinkers guitar.

Zulu Alpha Kilo won the ‘Best Digital Brand Experience’ and ‘Most Effective Use of Mobile’ categories at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2021. Here, the team behind the winning entry share the secrets of this successful project...

The challenge

SingleCut Beersmiths, a New York-based brewery that is inspired by rock ’n’ roll, pays homage to rock music with every craft beer it releases.

Our brief from the client was to develop concepts for a new special-edition beer that celebrates SingleCut’s rock ’n’ roll roots and the music lovers who are its biggest fans. The challenge was in finding an idea that would truly bring the brand to life, capture the imagination of customers and drive brand awareness and sales.

The strategy

Most people think they’re great guitarists after a few beers. If we could get people to pick up a guitar and genuinely improve their skills with a SingleCut brew, it would become the purest fusion of craft beer and rock music. With that insight in mind, we created Notes IPA (India Pale Ale), the first beer crafted to actually teach drinkers guitar. Going far beyond the original ask, we brought the beer to life as a fully integrated, 360 degree campaign that spanned product naming, branding, package design and a unique digital extension.

The campaign

Each can in a four-pack of the beer comes with a distinct label displaying a foundational guitar chord: C, D, G or E-minor. By gripping the can like they would a guitar, drinkers can learn the finger positions for each chord and get a feel for the strings through the label’s tactile finish.

This is accompanied by an interactive demonstration accessed by scanning a Snapchat code on the can with a mobile device. This unlocks an augmented reality (AR) guitar lesson that enables drinkers to visualize finger positions for each chord right on the can, hear how the chords should sound and create shareable music.

Every can of Notes IPA comes equipped with an injection-moulded guitar pick that fits right on the pull tab. These custom picks were designed to not only pop open the beer but also pop off for the user to use to practice guitar.

Finally, custom shipping tubes were also designed in the image of a guitar neck. Each tube comes with the beer, pull tab picks and a limited-edition campaign poster. These tubes were sent to some of the greatest guitar players in the US and Canada, along with a handwritten thank you note from SingleCut’s founder Rich Buceta for their contributions to rock music.

The results

Notes IPA sold out twice as fast as an average SingleCut release. It was also the brand’s most successful social media initiative, with engagement rates on Snapchat for the AR lens performing 500% above average.

The project was featured on Dieline and major guitar blogs. It was also picked up by global trade press, earning an Ad Age Editor’s Creativity Pick of the Day.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Digital Industries 2021. Find out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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