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Stella Artois Launches New Brew Via Community Theatre

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I hate being part of the show. I don't clap along or shout out suggestions. I despise sentences that lead off with "By a show of hands..." I like my fourth walls intact. I won't ever go see Tony and Tina's Wedding, Cats, or The Ellen DeGeneres Show. So unless my name's on the marquee, just allow me to sit in the dark and be a passive member of the audience.

That being said, I don't think I'm the demographic that Stella Artois is aiming for.

Despite being a decent import with a slight air of class, the Belgium brewster is launching a new line, Stella Artois Black, with the elegance of an improv troupe asking for a location. Spanning ten London pubs through November 14 to 25, Stella will be promoting its new flavor with immersive theatre. The participants and settings will be set in the sixties which, according to UK's The Stage, "is designed to make them feel like they are in a film."

As awful as that sounds, imagine the number of jackass tourists belting out lines from Austin Powers.

James Watson, marketing director of Stella Artois Western Europe, told The Stage, "Traditional advertising that we do for other brands didn't really seem to apply -- we wanted to do something that reflected the kinds of things people are looking for." He added, "I think people will even more strongly take home the association with Stella Artois Black as it is so immersive and engaging than had we done more traditional advertising."

Unfortunately, once the trill of talking to a theatre major in a Beatles wig is gone, Stella Artois Black seems all the more lackluster.

Fran Findlater, managing director for brand consultancy Ricochet, was ecstatic at the sheer number of possibilities that immersive theatre can produce for a brand. "This has artfully managed to combine theatre, cinema, and people's passion for performing so couldn't be more intriguing. This experiential area is a growing and exciting aspect of branding that has reassuringly few boundaries."

It's a shame this launch occurred after the end of October. Think of how exciting a haunted hayride becomes if the scarecrow that suddenly bolts to life did so to reach for your keyring bottle opener.
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