Are you reading this story on your smartphone? Even worse, are you reading this story on a smartphone at the bar?
Then Next Digital Creative Agency (Next-DC), based in Sofia, Bulgaria, is throwing down the gauntlet: The company's new app, created for Amstel, dares you not to touch your cellphone for 30 minutes. Everyone who accumulates eight hours of unplugged quiet time is rewarded with a beer.
"Amstel wanted to position itself as the beer of young men who work in international companies, are well paid, and spend most of their time in the office," said Momchil Zakhariev, deputy creative director at Next-DC. "Our goal was to find a way to make these people feel freer by wholeheartedly enjoying their spare time." (And presumably free up their hands for imbibing.)
The app, launched in September, is the latest addition to Amstel's campaign to unplug. Earlier this year, Next-DC launched Amstel Safe to remind people of the "true purpose of free time" by installing cellphone lockers in bars and encouraging patrons to lock up phones for the night in exchange for a free beer.
In the summer, several big cities in Bulgaria were treated to Amstel Pause, a vending machine installation intended to make passers-by take a break. If they manage to stay still for three minutes—you guessed it—free beer.
"Anxiety and stress were some of the problems we tried to solve. Our lives have become so dynamic that we rarely stop to reconsider how important this three-minute break is," said Maria Todorova, the agency’s cofounder and managing director.
Zakhariev says social media has helped the Amstel campaigns catch on. "We managed to see a global problem through its local angle and suggest a universal solution," he explained. "We try to create content that is highly shareable, to help people in their everyday lives, instead of just promoting a product."
But isn’t the Amstel campaign just asking people to replace one social lubricant—the smartphone—with another one?
"We hoped that beer is the social lubricant that fewer people would give up and we tried to find the right way to encourage them," Zakhariev said.
So what would you choose: cellphone or beer?