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How Wetherspoons used augmented reality to engage students

How Wetherspoons used augmented reality to engage students


Like many demographic segments, modern students are less likely to visit pubs than was the case with previous generations. Cheaper sources of alcohol available in the off-trade, a reduction in the number of pubs and changing fashion have all contributed to dispelling the stereotyped image of the student who spends all day in the pub.

To combat this trend Wetherspoon set out, in partnership with Bacardi-Brown-Forman Brands (BBFB), to position the pub chain as the perfect destination for a weekly ‘Big Night Out’ for students. A campaign was developed that would reach out to these young consumers using new technology to make sure Wetherspoon’s pubs and Bacardi-Brown-Forman Brands were at the front of student’s minds when they were planning to meet with friends.
Ogilvy Action developed the Wetherspoon Unlocked campaign sought to highlight the unique food and drink offers available in the pubs, and to enable interaction with social networking sites so students could share the fun of their nights out with friends. The goal was to increase footfall across the Wetherspoons estate and to encourage shared but spontaneous experiences.


Early adopters were targeted with a multimedia campaign that encouraged them to be adventurous and try something new. At the heart of the strategy was the Wetherspoons Unlocked app which once downloaded, allowed consumers to interact with the brands involved on a long term basis. Multiple access points to the campaign also meant that students were made aware of it through a number of avenues.

Users benefitted from real-time offers on food and drink while they were with their friends in their local Wetherspoons. The app was designed to offer real social value by encouraging friends to share a good night out.


Ogilvy Action developed the ‘Unlock Your Night @ Wetherspoon’ app for iPhone and Android handsets. This augmented reality app (powered by Aurasma) allowed users to unlock ‘hidden’ QR code messages placed on traditional point of sale (POS) displays in 280 branches of Wetherspoons and on university campuses, to drive awareness of the campaign and encourage further downloading of the app by early adopters.

Aurasma augmented reality software was used to bring to life real time value-added offers delivered to app users while they were in Wetherspoons pubs and signalled via brightly coloured geometric shapes with accompanying messages such as  ‘be curious’ and ‘question everything’, placed on a range of POS items such as posters, beers mats and stickers.

Ogilvy Action also worked with website and with Campus Media, to run a far-reaching awareness campaign online and on campus; online advertising, eCRM, campus POS and student ambassadors all played a part in spreading word of the Wetherspoon Unlocked campaign.

The app also allowed consumers to tag videos and pictures of their ‘Big Night Out’ to objects within the pubs, so that these could then be accessed by their Facebook friends on subsequent visits to the venue. Content could also be directly tagged and updated to Twitter feeds and Facebook through the app.


The campaign has proved popular with students, as planned. So far the app has been downloaded over 7,500 times, generating 50,000 voucher requests.

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