It's the Beer Talking: Foster's Gets Interactive

'Boony' Figurine Yells at Umps on TV, Urges Pub Visits

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If only your beer could talk. Foster's Australia was intrigued by the idea, and its agency, George Patterson Y&R, found a way to do it.
Boon: He'll drink to that.
Boon: He'll drink to that.

The agency created a promotion for Foster's Victoria Bitter brand that gave away a talking figurine of cricket legend David Boon with every two cases sold. Foster's used point-of-sale materials to promote the figurine, and kicked off the promotion with a series of TV and radio spots that established the legend of "Boon."

Sits on beer cans
The toy David Boon could stand on its own or sit atop a can of beer while consumers watched the TV broadcasts of the 2006 cricket season, of which Foster's was a major sponsor. The can-topping talker commented on the action ("Looked out from here, ump!" or "Show us a replay of that!"), spurred on by encoded signals embedded in the broadcast.

Among his 32 phrases were: "When are we going to the pub?" and "I'll drink to that." (Part of David Boon's mystique comes from the story that he once downed 52 beers on a flight from London to Sydney, Australia.)

The talking Boonys were also equipped with timed sayings that offered up a code word of the day -- bat, for example, which viewers could then text to win a sport utility vehicle, a trip or a cricket jersey.

200,000 figurines
The 200,000 figurines sold out in two weeks. Sales of Victoria Bitter surged 26.3% in first quarter 2006 -- the best sales in a decade. And Boony dolls were selling on eBay for $75.

The technology provider for the campaign, Veil Interactive Technologies, hasn't done many consumer-facing campaigns but has a longtime relationship with TNS Media Intelligence, encoding technology for its commercial-spot reporting service. But Veil Exec VP-New Business Development Scott Miller said he is "in advanced discussions right now with a number of agencies and clients worldwide for campaigns that would launch next year."

Maybe this NFL season we'll see a talking Joe Namath doll that sits atop Bud Light cans -- he could tell Suzy Kolber he wants a kiss every time her voice comes through the TV.
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