Ad Nut
Jun 22, 2020

Uncool cucumber game stands between you and discounted gin

Cheaper gin might be just the tonic the world needs right now. Unfortunately, an annoying game pickles any brand affinity Hedrick's Gin was trying to create with a new promotional scheme.

Hendrick's Gin has launched what it calls an augmented reality game, in connection with World Cucumber Day. The game is open to appropriately aged residents of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines until July 20. 

World Cucumber Day may be a real thing, or it may be something that Hendrick's Gin made up. Ad Nut is not sure and frankly could not be bothered to investigate. Ad Nut has, however, thoroughly explored how the new promotion works, because Ad Nut's professionalism knows no bounds (except when it comes to researching possibly fake holidays, obviously).

Here's what Ad Nut found. Guys, it's so simple!

All you have to do is (deep breath) go to (using your phone), wait a long time for the page to load (about 15 seconds in Ad Nut's case, nearly a minute for one of Ad Nut's minions), enter your birthdate, play a tedious game that involves moving your head from side to side to move a virtual plant pot in order to catch virtual water droplets (and avoid virtual rose petals), which will result in a digital cucumber growing in your virtual pot, which, when it reaches full cucumber maturity, will earn you a bit of ‘cucumber currency’, which will get you an e-ticket coupon, which you then have to use with a specific vendor for a specific item, within a designated month, which finally will get you that item not for free, but merely at a discount. 

The exact offering differs. In Singapore, green-thumbed gerkin growers get $15 off a special World Cucumber Day bundle at The 1887 Bar on GrabFood. In the Philippines, winners get 15% off Hendrick's Gin at an online store called—accurately if not charmingly—The Booze Shop. 

Ad Nut is sure the campaign clicks various digital-engagement boxes from the brand’s brief, but by juniper, they've ginned up an overly complex and ultimately unrewarding set of hoops for consumers to jump through. If the game was hugely enjoyable, maybe it would be all right. But the game is definitely not hugely enjoyable. Or enjoyable. Or tolerable. Instead it is highly annoying. The control algorithm is wonky, and it quickly made Ad Nut want to beat the developers over the head with the largest cuke Ad Nut could find. 

Ad Nut would dearly love, in a few months, to see a case study on how effective all this turns out to be. Perhaps Ad Nut has vastly underestimated people's willingness to play uninteresting games in exchange for relatively minor and overly restricted discounts.

By the way—pedant alert—the game is also not legit AR, even though it's being presented that way. Your face appears on the screen while you play, yes, and your head movement controls the movement of your virtual planter (albeit wonkily). But your face is not integrated into the game in a visually pleasing way, and it's completely unnecessary, from a functional point of view, for your face to be there. Anyway, in Ad Nut's mind, AR means superimposing game elements onto a real-world scene, not superimposing Ad Nut's visage onto a lame game.

Oh and also, Hendrick's Gin is actually infused with both rose petals and cucumber, so having rose petals mean instant failure in the game seems strange.

The artwork on the campaign is very nice, but that's the only thing here that goes down as smooth as a quality G&T. The rest leaves a taste more sour than pickle brine, which can't be what the brand had in mind.

Update, June 23: Ad Nut's editors received the following nice note from the people of William Grant & Sons, owners of Hendrick's Gin:

Many thanks for taking the time to try out The Cucumber Horticulturist and we’re sorry that it missed the mark for you.

We’ve always celebrated World Cucumber Day by letting consumers exchange cucumbers for a Hendrick’s & Tonic in our partner bars. In these unusual times with Covid-19, we’ve had to change our original plans but we still wanted to bring some lighthearted fun to everyone on our special day.

As with anything digital, we had some technical glitches that caused a lag in gameplay for some users, but we are working hard to improve the game experience for all. We do hope to connect under different circumstances in future!

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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