Cracker Barrel Old Country Store provides a friendly home-away-from-home feel in its old country store and restaurant, and now the family-dining concept is serving up a virtual tour of its old country store, which is filled with nostalgic gifts and self indulgences, and of the restaurant, in which more than two million guests a year enjoy good country cookin’. The tour is available by logging onto Cracker Barrel’s newly redesigned website at www.crackerbarrel.com.
“As Cracker Barrel was updating its website to make browsing more fun for our guests, we decided to add a few features that would provide users with an online experience that’s as close to an actual in-store experience as possible,” says Chris Ciavarra, senior vice president of marketing. “Guests consider our experience to be pretty unique. Our country store and restaurant have long been a home away from home for many of our guests as we try to provide them with a delicious meal and genuine hospitality. This online tour offers users an opportunity to experience Cracker Barrel virtually, until their next opportunity to come see us in person.”
The online tour was created by the digital connection marketing company Band Digital using “360 Interactive Video,” an innovative technology that captures a full circle of entertainment-quality content and allows users to interact with it by clicking, dragging, and exploring the scene.
In this way, users control what parts of the store or restaurant they want to discover, as if they were actually in the store. To enhance the experience, Band Digital integrated “hot spotting,” a flash overlay that uses motion-tracking to create clickable elements. This allows users to drag the video, move around, and click on things of interest for more information. So, for example, in the Cracker Barrel virtual tour users can click on objects such as a rocking chair on the front porch to learn more about this long-time symbol of the Cracker Barrel brand.
“360 interactive immerses you in a video,” says Chip Weinstein, president of Band Digital. “For Cracker Barrel, this means that the store, the restaurant, the people, and the atmosphere can be truly experienced by a user. The story they tell in their 360 video takes you there in a way no static digital experience can.”
Josh Beane, Band Digital’s director of transmedia, says, “It’s ‘cutting edge technology meets storytelling.’ The technology lets a good story take on life, to give you as close an experience as possible without actually being there.”
Band Digital secured a partnership with Social Animal, an entertainment technology lab and production studio that creates interactive video with its patented SA9 360 camera system and its SA360 video player, to provide this offering.