A small Belgian beer brand is hoping little creatures help it make a big splash across the U.S. to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Gnomes - fantastical tiny beings with colorful cone-shaped caps - form the basis of the brewery campaign.
Branding and design firm Anthem Worldwide created the campaign for Belgian brewery Brasserie d'Achouffe and related beer brands, all owned by Duvel Moortgat. Its celebration is centered on a four-day celebration dubbed "Gnome Week," which will include beer tastings and an augmented reality app and will culminate with the World's Smallest Toast.
The Little Gnome App, powered by augmented reality company Aurasma, allows customers with iPhone and Android devices to access virtual content by pointing the app at specially made coasters which will be available throughout Gnome Week, June 6 to 9, in bars around the country. They trigger animation in which gnomes on the coasters "magically dance to life" on mobile devices.
For instance, coasters for Cooperstown, N.Y.-based Ommegang brews feature "Gnomegang" revelers. Along with Ommegang and Brasserie d'Achouffe, Duvel Moortgat owns Brouwerij De Koninck in Belgium and Bernard in the Czech Republic.
According to Thomas Conner, an account director at Anthem, there are three coasters with three separate animations. Anthem will continue to add new animations throughout the year, including virtual experiences triggered by bottles.
"They don't have huge budgets and are not a huge brand in the U.S. - and with the beer category so cluttered with big players with big budgets - the only way to really get noticed without [a big] budget is to do something really unique that breaks through and grabs your attention," said Milan Martin, managing director at Anthem.
After launching on May 31, Conner said there were over 1,000 downloads of the app as of about a week and a half ago. He did not have an updated figure.
A related Facebook "Gnome Thyself" app takes a cue from OfficeMax's annual holiday "Elf Yourself" campaign, allowing people to dress in virtual gnome garb and share the images with friends.
The campaign centers on gnomes because of a colorful story linked to Achouffe's founding. As the legend goes, June 6, 2012 marks the 6,666th anniversary of gnomes finding magical water in what would later become Belgium and using it to brew special beer. The last surviving gnome passed his secret recipe along to two aspiring Belgian brewers in 1982. And thus Brasserie d'Achouffe was born. Today, the labels on its beers and its website feature gnomes.
According to Conner, nearly 200 bars in cities across the U.S., including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Diego, will host their own celebrations throughout the week with tastings of Achouffe's beers, including La Chouffe, Mc Chouffe and Houblon Chouffe.
A different beer will be featured each night. The event will culminate with the World's Smallest Toast at "6:66 PM" on Saturday, June 9. At the toasts, little beer mugs on tiny coasters will be filled with Achouffe beer. Patrons are encouraged to come dressed as gnomes and individual bars may be putting their own spins on the event.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.