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Jason Acker - Interviewed at Sundance Film Festival 2017

In November of 2016, Diageo and DRINKiQ released Decisions: A 360 Virtual Reality Experience. The 360-degree and VR video puts the viewer in the passenger seat of a serious car wreck, simulating the terrible consequences of driving under the influence.

How did the video Decisions come about? Why did you decide to do it in VR?

Diageo prides itself on being a responsible company. We recognize that we have products that are meant for people to enjoy and have a good time, and for the most part [alcohol] is enjoyed socially. We also recognize that there’s a dangerous side to our business – we want people to enjoy our product responsibly.

We’re committed to social responsibility, and with the growth of virtual reality and the impact that VR can have on telling stories and bringing people into an immersive experience, we saw an opportunity to really demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving using this relatively new technology.

We sat down with our partners at Vayneremedia and said, “how can we develop a new way of demonstrating the dangers of drinking and driving”, and we all agreed that this was something that could be extremely impactful – showing it through virtual reality as well as 360 video. It seems dangerous for a brand to create a VR experience that some might call more moving than, say, enjoyable. Is that not a bold move?

Our goal is essentially to make sure that people realize that they need to think about how they’re going to get home after enjoying their evening out, who’s going to be their designated driver, whether or not they should be calling an Uber, and the way to do that is to be honest with ourselves and show what can go terribly wrong if you make that wrong decision.

We recognize that people sometimes underestimate how much they’ve actually had to drink, and what we’ve tried to do is take a very typical situation of someone that has received some very good news about a job, and they go out and they have a couple of cocktails, and the terrible consequences at the end of that evening. So, we’re trying to change perceptions, and we believe we’ve done that.

What is the power of using VR on a project like this?

We wanted people to feel, literally, what it was like to be in a car accident. We wanted people to hear the glass breaking around them and the wind rushing through the car. We believe that this immersive experience makes this more impactful than just a 2D video. I think Diageo certainly sees the future of virtual reality. We’ve really done a good job of telling stories throughout the years… I think it starts with a great story, and if you can bring that to life with virtual reality, even better.

What has the response been to the piece?

We’ve seen over 4 million views of the video itself, and we’re pretty proud of that fact. Our goal is to save lives. If we save one life by someone watching this video, we’ve done our job.

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