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Smart packaging adds more mystique to Oculto beer

Smart packaging adds more mystique to Oculto beer
Smart label technology uses printed electronic pathways, paper batteries, micro switches and LED lights.

Anheuser-Busch leverages IoT technology for the first time using smart label packaging with LEDs powered by paper batteries in a very special limited edition bottle of Oculto beer.

Special events call for a special beer and that calls for extra special beer packaging. That’s what Anheuser-Busch’s atypical Oculto beer brand has done by loading the bottle packaging with even more technology for even more consumer interaction.

Earlier this year, the brewer launched a mass-marketed beer that was pretty impressive with some intriguing packaging features to play off the brand’s aura of mystery (see Mysterious Oculto beer serves on-package surprises). Now the brewer has upped the interactive ante using two light-emitting diodes (LEDs) powered by a printed paper battery as part of smart label packaging that also leverages an Internet of Things (IoT) connection, the latter a first for Anheuser-Busch.

The new “fully loaded” limited edition (LE) bottle was served at the brand’s “Garden of Hedon” event in Miami on November 19.

To create the illuminated bottle, the brand partnered with Inland Packaging to leverage smart label technology featuring printed electronic pathways, paper batteries, micro switches and LED lights using a pressure-sensitive label design. The pressure switch is placed where the thumb naturally falls while holding a beer bottle, and when pressed, the LED lights begin to shine through the eyes of the mask on the front of the bottle for about three to four seconds. The special edition bottle was only available at the event and will be featured at select Oculto events in 2016.

"With the original Oculto packaging, we focused on creating a truly innovative bottle with a host of discoverable elements—everything from hidden messages on the back of the label to eyes that mysteriously appear when the bottle gets cold," says  Mallika Monteiro, senior brand director, Oculto, Anheuser-Busch. "Oculto's unique positioning and social nature inspired both the illuminated bottle and the Relics of the Night digital activation to further highlight the personality and social nature of the beer."

"Inland is thrilled to partner with Oculto to create this innovative, illuminating bottle," says Tricia Sime, Inland’s packaging innovation director. "This technology demonstrates how packaging and marketing can come together to bring consumers a full sensory experience."

For Sime, label development was a “fun project that pushes the envelope of high-functionality smart packaging that’s part of the brand’s identity,” she tells Packaging Digest. Sime says the project was in development for six months, meaning it was initiated soon after the brand debuted on Friday March 13 earlier this year. She discloses that the label uses patent-pending technology and was the company’s first illuminated label.

While the various components make it sound complex, Sime tells PD that “it’s simplistic in the way it works. It was important that it be user friendly.”

We interviewed Oculto senior brand director Monterio to pull back a little more of the curtain of mystery surrounding Oculto’s latest value-added packaging.

Next: Insights on packaging, IoT and plans

 Consumer interaction drives the technology-laden version of Oculto beer appearing at special events.

What kind of effort was behind this latest development for Oculto?

Monterio: The innovations were developed by Anheuser-Busch in partnership with Inland Packaging. This is an exciting project for us focused on furthering the brand’s personality of mystery, intrigue and seduction through a full sensory experience.

What’s the cost per bottle to do something like this?

Monterio: We don’t disclose specific cost figures, but see this as a significant opportunity to further the premium nature of the brand and its packaging.  Since the beginning, we’ve seen the Oculto packaging as an innovation in and of itself to bring to life a look that is premium, seductive and energetic.

What can be said about the assembly of the packaging?

Monterio: Oculto’s innovative new label was recently launched as a prototype in Miami in November of this year. The labels are currently assembled manually and will continue to be refined as we move forward.  

How many powered-label bottles have been produced?

Monterio: A limited supply of bottles were produced for our initial launch of the label. We’ll look to expand production in 2016 as the packaging innovation will appear again at select events throughout the year.


What more can you say about the “Relics of the Night” IoT aspect?

Monterio: Relics of the Night digital activation further brings the personality of the brand to life online. Through geo-targeted prompts, adults 21 and over can participate by scanning the Oculto mask from their bottle and uploading their image to participate (

Leveraging the Internet of Things scan technology, participants’ images allow them to digitally “spin the bottle” and win prizes from car service credits and t-shirts to sporting event tickets or VIP tables at local nightclubs. Adding Relics of the Night activation, the experience drinkers have with the Oculto bottle transitions from a purely physical interaction to a digital one, further highlighting the social nature of the brand.

What’s the chance of using this kind of technology on mass-produced beer?

Monterio: While we wouldn’t rule out this possibility, at this point we’re focused on elevating this premium technology through select events across the country to emphasize the brand’s secretive nature. We will look to share more details on where and when it will be revealed in the coming months.

Does this indicate potentially similar efforts for other AB brands?

Monterio: This marks the first time Anheuser-Busch has incorporated the smart label and an Internet of Things technology with one of our brands. Specifically, it is the first time we’ve leveraged Internet of Things technology with a bottle scan for one of our brands. We’ll share additional information on other Anheuser-Busch brands and upcoming tech innovations when it becomes available.

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