Green Machine: Heineken Sales Meeting

Beer commercials are sometimes the most over the top on television, but when it comes to the beer manufacturers' corporate events, staid is more often the norm. That wasn't the case with the recent Heineken national sales meeting in San Antonio, held on a proscenium stage and featuring moving lights, lasers, video, water screens, even cryojets filled with liquid nitrogen. For this highly visual production, designed in part to unveil a new brand to 2,500 distributors, Heineken turned to Everett Studios to produce the event and to design one corporation to provide lighting, set design, and project management.

The link between those two companies was Curtis Dunn, a production manager and technical director who had worked on previous Heineken events with Everett and who joined design one last year. “This year,” says Dunn, “Heineken came to us and said, ‘We really want to turn it up. We've basically doubled our budget, and we're launching a new product with this show.’”

The product in question is Heineken's new premium light lager, and the client wanted a flashy unveiling for the new brand as well as something similar for other Heineken brands. To help facilitate those looks, design one brought in set designer Chris Jones, associate lighting designer Tim Plummer, and programmer Laura Frank. The creative team came up with a five-screen show that would also employ theatrical scenic design elements, as well as the aforementioned high-tech gadgetry.

Jones designed simple but effective settings for each brand segment. For Amstel, considering the upscale, luxury product, Jones went with a museum motif. The CCM segment featured a bus with an oversize steering wheel and windshield. Following an intermission, the audience returned to the theatre to find the space transformed into a futuristic, HR Geiger-esque environment. “The idea was to incorporate the stage and the audience,” Dunn explains. “Since we were in a traditional proscenium setting, we wanted to eliminate the fourth wall and give the entire space the same feel, so the audience felt they were a part of this concept, this ‘Green Machine.’” For the fourth and final segment, the unveiling of the new premium light brand, the room was transformed into a full-on rock-and-roll show.

These final two segments are also where the lasers, water screens, cryojets, and pyro effects came into play, all courtesy of Excitement Technologies Group. Everett Studios' projection package featured Dataton Watchout; images were displayed across five screens measuring a total of 1,500 sq.ft. The central rear-projection screen was flanked by two water screens from ETG, which were then flanked by two additional front-projection screens in the house. Projectors used on this project included Barco R12s and Sanyo LCDs.

From a lighting standpoint, the project proved especially interesting, as design one employed both a Jands Vista console and ESP Vision's lighting visualization software for the first time. The latter proved especially handy for this project. Because the Lila Cockrell Theatre didn't have CAD drawings available for design one, Dunn made a site visit to San Antonio. “I took photos of the wall treatments, and we were able to incorporate those into the drawing, to give us a fairly accurate representation of what the walls looked like, and then used ESP Vision to put our templates on the walls. It was sufficiently accurate for us that we didn't have to really tweak cues once we got on site for the Heineken portion of the show. The Heineken portion was basically done before we ever walked in the door.”

The powers that be at Heineken were so pleased with design one's prestidigitation that the company has decided in January to take the show out to a series of seven regional meetings just to do the Heineken light product launch. The Green Machine rolls on.