In one of the standout activations at SXSW, Michelob’s ‘Pure Golden Hour’ brought together 2,000 people for a lengthy mass meditation and rewarded them with music and beer.
Pure Golden Hour felt like a logical extension of Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold’s Super Bowl commercial—an ASMR ode to the ‘pure gold experience’ featuring Zoe Kravitz. For the SXSW activation, Michelob partnered with The Big Quiet, a mass meditation collective founded by Jesse Israel—who also led the experience at Pure Golden Hour.
“We wanted to give people a moment to reconnect with nature, themselves, take a moment of calm [and] partner with an amazing group, like the Big Quiet,” Ronnie Yoked, Michelob Ultra’s director of experiential, told AList at the event.
“[It’s] not the first time that we’ve done an event called Pure Golden Hour, but it’s definitely the first time we’ve ever done a mass meditation event with music and a party afterward.”
The beer brand knew they wanted to make a splash at SXSW for the new Pure Gold product, a light certified organic beer that is being marketed to free-spirited, health-conscious millennials.
The team behind Michelob Ultra Pure Gold has created similar activations, like yoga sessions at the Anheuser-Busch brewery or the ‘sunset sessions’ on a yacht in Miami. The brand is also the official sponsor of the World Surf League’s Founder’s Cup and built a branded surf deck at the event.
Similarly, The Pure Golden Hour activation took place at sunset in the Long Center in Austin, a large, outdoor amphitheater juxtaposed by the Colorado River and the downtown skyline.
The Big Quiet + @Miguel + Cautious Clay = #puregoldenhour Vibes 🧘♀️
Pure Golden Hour
Sunset Mass Meditation🧘♀️@sxsw 2019 Day 3
________________________________#belpha #sxsw #sxsw2019 #austintexas #atx pic.twitter.com/74SNiwhNZn
— Sean Hills (@seanhills) March 11, 2019
“We knew that we wanted to do it with Pure Gold, and we knew that we wanted to create a moment that would be unforgettable, impactful and break through all the other events and craziness that’s happening [at SXSW],” said Yoked, “We simultaneously were talking to the Big Quiet about figuring out a way in which we could work together for Pure Gold because meditation has been something that we care a lot about. And it came about to do this event together. They have really perfected this idea of meditation for modern people that incorporates music.”
After the meditation, the activation concluded with a performance of three songs by three different artists, each paired with a live string ensemble. At a festival/conference like SXSW, the sparseness that Michelob Ultra arranged here, between the meditation and performances, stood out. Where most shows are lengthy, ultra-branded and lubricated with tons of free beer and food—Michelob took a measured approach that included not serving any free Michelob Ultra Pure Gold until after the meditation and performances.
“It was a collaborative and conscious decision. The Big Quiet had shared with us that they really believe that meditation should be substance-free,” said Yoked, “We found that that made a lot of sense, and we found that we really could help them own the “post-meditation” experience. I have been to the Big Quiet event and they had this incredible experience and then afterward there was no real reason for people to socialize, and we thought that we both could help each other by us being the “after” moment, the moment that now that you’ve given this beautiful gift for yourself, you can just have some beers and party and have fun.”
This had to be a difficult decision and goes against every marketing inclination any marketer would hold, to push product and brand above all. But Michelob Ultra’s team was patient and Yoked feels like it paid off.
“For me, I’ve always believed that the deepest connections you make, we see this [more] now, are the brands that are meaningful in people’s lives. This was an opportunity to create an experience that was unforgettable for people and when they walk away and talk about it, they’ll remember the Pure Golden Hour event.”