Diageo Unveils Immersive Virtual Reality Technology That Puts Consumers in Front Seat of a Drunk Driving Collision

Industry-First Initiative is Latest Development in Beverage Alcohol Leader’s Continued Push to Combat Drunk Driving and Promote Responsible Drinking
Nov 17, 2016 1:30 PM ET

NORWALK, Conn., November 17, 2016 /3BL Media/ – Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol, today introduced “Decisions,” a first-of-its-kind virtual reality (VR) experience that puts consumers of legal drinking age in the middle of a fatal drunk driving crash. This launch represents the company’s latest innovative approach to educate and meaningfully impact consumers about the importance of responsible decision-making when drinking.

Diageo has brought Johnnie Walker, the number one blended Scotch whisky in the world, to the forefront for the rollout of this new initiative, given the brand’s work globally launching the Join the Pact program. Through Join the Pact, Johnnie Walker in key markets across the globe has urged consumers to stop drunk driving by having them take a pledge to never get behind the wheel while intoxicated, and encouraging their friends, family members and loved ones to do the same. Johnnie Walker has been an early pioneer in this space by paving the way with Join the Pact and now presenting this virtual reality experience to further reinforce responsible drinking. To date, Join the Pact has received 2.6 million commitments globally and has delivered roughly 630,000 miles of safe rides home. Additionally, Johnnie Walker continues to innovate and make strides in the digital space, as the new “Decisions” experience comes on the heels of the brand’s recently launched Digital Mentorship program, which offers two unique digital experiences for consumers across Amazon Alexa and Bots for Facebook Messenger.

With the purpose of showing the repercussions of getting behind the wheel after a night of excessive drinking, “Decisions” follows the journeys of three different vehicles and their passengers. The stories of each individual group – all unrelated at the outset – unfold as the viewer discovers the different motivations that led to each group’s night out. In one vehicle, three friends are heading to a party. Filled with laughter and excitement, their story shows the carefree spirit fueled by the many possibilities that may lie ahead. In another vehicle, the story focuses on an adult woman celebrating a breakthrough in her career. The third and final vehicle explores the touching relationship of a husband and wife during their first date night since the birth of their new baby. All three storylines, and vehicles, ultimately converge in a tragedy that the viewer will be able to see, hear and feel.

Through the use of immersive VR technology to share this story, Diageo powerfully highlights the negative impact that one bad decision can have on multiple lives. With consumer interest in VR continuing to grow, Diageo is using it as a way to bring consumers closer to an important issue facing many communities across the U.S.

“With Thanksgiving and the holiday season right around the corner, the dangers of drunk driving should be on all of our minds as we celebrate with friends and family. Although drunk driving fatalities are at an all-time low*, every single drinking and driving death can and should be avoided. It carries additional weight this time of year. On average, 728 people are injured or killed in drunk-driving crashes each day during the holiday season**, and this issue will continue to be incredibly important to Diageo,” said James Thompson, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Diageo North America. “With VR technology on the rise both in consumer interest and utilization, we believe this is the ideal method to directly and emotionally impact consumers. It was a natural fit for Johnnie Walker to lead given the brand’s work with their ongoing Join the Pact initiative. Through Join the Pact, Johnnie Walker continues to encourage consumers around the world to commit to not drive drunk, and now with ‘Decisions’ aims to continually raise awareness for the cause.  These days, it’s easy for us to be desensitized to certain issues unless we live them out firsthand. Our hope is that this will be truly jarring for people and will help inform responsible decision-making while enlisting their advocacy in the ongoing fight against repeat, hardcore drunk drivers.”

The VR program is being spearheaded by Diageo’s Digital and Culture & Partnerships teams, who have engaged partners such as Facebook, YouTube and The New York Times to help drive support and distribution for this project. Joining Diageo behind the scenes is digital agency VaynerMedia, who is helping the company with the creative vision, production, development and distribution.

Consumer interest in VR continues to grow rapidly, with the number of active users set to reach 171 million by 2018***. Diageo is making a long-term commitment to the technology and over time will develop additional user experiences that will address the many issues around decision-making when you’re drinking. Recognized globally for setting the standard in social responsibility and responsible marketing, this is the latest pacesetting initiative from Diageo to remind adults to drink sensibly. Whether it’s pioneering “Safe Rides Home” designated driver activations or leveraging apps such as Uber to remind consumers there are alternatives to getting home if they’ve been drinking, Diageo is continually looking for new and inventive ways to reach consumers via emerging platforms and technologies.

The release of “Decisions” comes on the heels of Diageo’s recently announced two-year partnership agreement with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, entitled “Road Safety Initiative for Cities,” which involves a collaboration to build institutional and individual capacity to reduce traffic deaths and injuries, and to improve road safety globally. Training runs in 15 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin and Central America, with a focus on countries with the highest death rates related to road traffic accidents. More than 60 countries have been invited to participate. The training activities will reach approximately 6,000 participants who will be a mix of government officials, young people, and other relevant stakeholders, through training workshops for government officials at the national and local levels, awareness-raising road shows for young people and high-level conferences on the issue.

Consumers of legal drinking age can access “Decisions” through Facebook 360, YouTube 360 and NYT VR. It is also compatible with all VR headsets, including Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and Google Daydream.

About Diageo
Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands including Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Bulleit and Buchanan’s whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

Diageo is listed on both the New York Stock Exchange (DEO) and the London Stock Exchange (DGE) and our products are sold in more than 180 countries around the world. For more information about Diageo, our people, our brands, and performance, visit us at www.diageo.com. Visit Diageo’s global responsible drinking resource, www.DRINKiQ.com, for information, initiatives, and ways to share best practice.

Follow us on Twitter for news and information about Diageo North America: @Diageo_NA.

Celebrating life, every day, everywhere.

*Drunk driving fatalities have decreased 53% since 1982.  Source: 2014 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, 2015.

**National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, 2015

***(Statista, “Statistics and facts about Virtual Reality (VR)”, 4/6/16)