As RealBeanz Director of Public Relations and Social Media Jenna Burke told me in last month’s Up Close With story, it can be hard for consumers to experience a product and develop a relationship with a brand if the main connection with a brand is through social media and advertising. Instead, it’s the face-to-face encounters with a brand at events that really help consumers become fans, she said.

Marching to the same beat, Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky brand took its products on tour across the country this spring, stopping in major cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., for beverage industry players and consumers alike to experience the product and the personality of the brand at invitation-only events. I had the pleasure of attending the brand’s Chicago event in April. At the pop-up House of Walker site, attendees were treated to a short video about the history of the brand and a tasting session with Master of Whisky Stephen Wilson, who invited everyone to take in the Black Label whisky’s color, aroma and flavor as the drink was served neat, on the rocks, and mixed with water. Afterward, guests were invited to explore the space and experience Johnnie Walker’s signature marques as well as the newest expression in the range, Johnnie Walker Double Black, and share their comments and experiences with their friends on social media.

 Similarly, Evanston, Ill.-based Solixir unleashed its Department of Optimal Performance (SDOP) team on the streets of Chicago in April to spread the word about the functional drink line. As part of the marketing and advertising campaign titled “The Working Dead,” the brand staged zombie outbreaks in the city to share samples of the beverage with unsuspecting office workers. SDOP team members also conducted office sweeps and set up decontamination areas to familiarize consumers with the four formulations in the functional drink lineup.