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What Time Is Last Call? Behind the Innovative 360 Campaign to Prevent Drunk Driving

The interactive “Last Call 360” experience features YouTube star MatPat

You walk into a crowded, boisterous bar at night. Across the room, you spy friends gathered around a table. As you move to join them, a familiar face appears and asks if you’d like a drink, and a choice is made. Beer? A cocktail? Do you just order a water, since you’re driving?

This is the very real scenario at the center of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s disarmingly realistic “Last Call 360” campaign, aimed towards reducing cases of driving while drunk across America.

“We have done some very innovative and leading edge work in the digital space for our government client for some time now,” explained Carlos Alcazar, for the Tombras Group, the agency that created the innovative campaign. “This time around, I wanted to do something that was a little more interactive, incorporating 360-technology, but with a data-driven approach. Something that would tell a good story about data.”

Last Call 360 | Behind The Scenes

Working with partners at Google, YouTube and the Google Zoo team, Alcazar set out to learn as much as possible about the online searching habits of the target audience — males, age 21 to 34.

“They gave me a wealth of incredible information on the search patterns of guys, and it was really interesting to see what they were searching for,” Alcazar continued. “It was very clear that a lot of them were spending time in bars, and they were actually searching for things related to behavior having to do with drunk driving.” Popular searches included looking for DUI checkpoints in the area, how to avoid them, and one that became my favorite, ‘What time is last call?’”

Seeing just how much of the Internet searching was based around nightlife, Alcazar and the team decided to build on that concept to produce a drunk driving prevention campaign centered right in the heart of a bar.

We landed on this idea of placing the viewer into an interactive, 360 experience where they feel like they’re in a bar, and they are given a variety of choices. There are people they can interact with, there are games to play, there’s music. The added bonus is the user can choose to drink or not drink. What do you want to do?” said David Jacobs, Lead Digital Strategist with Tombras.

We’re confident that people are going to want to fully explore the 360 experience of being able to be inside the bar. Through the technology of photospheres, cinemagraphs, videos and other hotspots that we’ve created, the user can really be immersed in the experience.”

Last Call 360 | Behind The Scenes

The choice to drink or not drink while immersed in the “Last Call” experience determines what happens next. If you decide to have alcohol, the outcome is grim. 

“At that point, we take them out to the sidewalk with their friends, where the user is placed behind the wheel of a car to go to the next place. Just as soon as you move on, the lights of a police car come up, and they get pulled over. For lack of a better word, it’s a little bit of a buzz-kill,” Alcazar detailed. “You end up in jail as a consequence, and at the end of that experience, based on your IP address, we’re able to give you regional information on the real-life consequences related to drunk driving in that state, both legal and financial. There’s an alternate happy ending if the person chooses not to drink, too.”

In order to achieve this fully immersive objective, Tombras technical director Tim Wagner and Tombras VR technologist Andre Hayter took on the challenge of merging myriad components into one absolute experience.

It’s kind of a choose-your-own-adventure 360 movie,” surmised Wagner about the endeavor. “Making it all happen smoothly without using so much bandwidth that it’s no longer a smooth experience was a big concern throughout the project, especially for mobile users. We didn’t want to eat up your entire data plan with one view.”

“The synthesis of all the aspects is really important,” chimed Hayter. “Everything has to work together seamlessly. That’s the key feature for us.”

Explaining the final product as “almost like a Google street view style exploration of a bar,” director Sam Smith of MediaMonks took a cinematic approach to helping craft the virtual experience.

“It was really important to me that it felt completed alive, even though it’s essentially just a photo,” Smith stressed about the project. “We were really focused on rewarding curiosity. We don’t limit where the user can explore. They can go to the furthest back corner of the bar if they want to. So we dropped all kinds of Easter egg conversations throughout the experience so it always stays interesting. We found small ways to bring these still photos to life.”

Adding yet another dimension to Last Call 360 is YouTube star Matthew Patrick, more widely known as MatPat, who appears in multiple roles throughout the proceedings.

Last Call 360 | Behind The Scenes

“Working with Matthew was so great. His personality on his YouTube channel is very much who he is,” Smith enthused. “He’s funny, witty, sharp, and just brought a lot of life to this. He’s like the host who guides the user through the night. Matt was perfect for the project, as he has this way of explaining something very technical in a way that is also really entertaining.”

Amidst the wealth of technology creating the immersive experience of the ambitious Last Call 360 campaign, the focus is always on the ultimate goal: reducing incidents of drunk driving over the holiday season.

“The best part of the work that we do everyday is that we know that it is saving lives and improving communities throughout the country,” Alcazar stressed about the project. “It’s kind of different when you wake up in the morning and say, ‘Let’s go out and do something to save somebody’s life.’”

Launch the interactive feature here to immerse yourself in Last Call 360.

Last Call 360 | Behind The Scenes
*This is branded content, produced by our marketing department in partnership with our advertisers—not by editorial.*
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