Event TV: Behind-the-scenes at the Boursin Sensorium

Event speaks exclusively to Stephen Gregory, marketing director of Bel UK, about turning a soft French cheese into a hi-tech experience.

The experience features sound, smell, temperature and visuals
The experience features sound, smell, temperature and visuals

This summer, Bel UK’s French cheese brand Boursin is hitting the road with a fully sensory installation. The brand enlisted agency Because to create The Boursin Sensorium: an activation centred around a virtual reality (VR) experience.

Stephen Gregory, marketing director of Bel UK, explained that the tour had been devised to tweak the brand’s positioning in the market.

"Our objective has been to grown more outside of the ‘cheese board’ occasion," he said. "We’d like to see a shift in perception for the brand and thought experiential was the best way to do that."

Because were bought on board for the campaign because of the strength of technology in their pitch. Gregory explained the Oculus Rift concept "really dramatised the ideas of Boursin as an indulgent experience, and encouraged people to explore flavours in a sensory way".

Tech + human interaction

The Sensorium is not just a chair and a headset – Because has designed a fully branded installation that features sampling, smell and interaction with brand ambassadors dressed in a quirky French style, who, Gregory said, tell the Boursin story. The new varieties of the cheese are offered in a perfect serve, complete with goods from bakery brand Paul.

The VR itself involves more than just a visual journey. Participants step inside a fridge and are subsequently welcomed with a blast of cold air and a range of smells.

"The main thing is, the agency calls it a 4D experience," states Gregory.

For this reason, all involved believe the experience has avoided the pitfall of shoehorning technology into an activation without a meaningful reason.

"It’s just such a perfect parallel with our objective. If we’d only been doing Oculus Rift, it might not have worked. But the overall sensorial experience has meant we’re presenting the brand in the way we wanted to."

Spreading the word

The Boursin Sensorium will finish its journey at the Foodies Festival in Oxford on 31 August. As of last week (17 July), the campaign has delivered approximately 3,300 VR experiences and more than 60,000 samples across 12 days of activity. While the activity began at the all-encompassing Westfield White City, it has since concentrated on nailing the gourmet-loving market at events such as the Kent County Show and the Foodies Festivals in London and Oxford.

"The brand’s target is passionate food lovers – people who will spread the word for us," explained Gregory.

Once the campaign has wrapped, Boursin will focus on its cheese board roots in time for Christmas. Yet Gregory is confident the brand has achieved its repositioning goals, which will live on through a digital campaign. He also hints the brand’s summer affair with experiential may fire up again when the warmer weather rolls around in 2016.

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