When MillerCoors launched Redd’s Apple Ale with national TV spots featuring apples hitting people in the head we thought, why not let the internet throw them as well? Thus, the Redd‘s Apple Launcher campaign was born, and came to life for two full weeks as a livestreamed interactive Facebook sweepstakes, dolling out over $50,000 in prizes and free merch.
But this wasn‘t any ordinary campaign. Just about every element involved — from the concept, to the set, to the internet-controlled apple launcher and a custom web application — had to be invented from scratch. It was a first of its kind: hundreds of thousands of people, from all across the country, aiming and firing a custom-built launcher in real-time. The result? A delighted audience, happy clients, and explosive sales for the product.
After taking over a secret, 100,000 square foot warehouse in Washington, DC‘s Ivy City, the set building could begin in earnest. Though the end product would be built from wood and steel, our team started by designing the Redd‘s bar in SketchUp, a 3D modeling software program.
Once a scale model had been designed, and camera angles tested, we used the architectural plans to construct the physical set from plywood — the only affordable medium durable enough to withstand two weeks of punishment from our launchers.
After the set was built, we installed all our technology and hardware. We put sensors in all the targets, set up the cannon and fired some test shots, and set up three live streaming cameras to capture all the action.
In short, we hacked a baseball-pitching machine to allow it to be controlled over the internet. The basic form-factor suited our purposes with its size and adjustable wheels, allowing for greater control of speed, arch, and projectile size (though much more tinkering was needed to customize them).
We retrofitted them with linear actuators and added on remotely operated loaders to supply them with the 80-100 apples they‘d fire per hour.
For 98 hours, almost every minute of this two week experience was carefully scripted with a feast of mini-stunts and activations including a dunk tank, RC cars, zombie take-overs, piñatas, bears, and so much more.
Following serious user-testing, we connected our customized launchers to an Arduino Mega Controller so users could remotely aim and fire them at the Redd’s bar. We paired the controller with an ethernet shield to receive commands from the internet, two linear actuator controllers to aim each launcher, and a relay to activate the loaders.