Our CTO had a passion for brewing (in a bathtub I think) and always enjoyed the idea of creating things for our alcohol clients & proactively.

Stones’, a pool bar franchise in South Africa, has 15 locations around the country, and has been frequented by almost everyone at least once in their lifetime. A mainstay on the cities’ menu for an evening foray – offering pool, music and alcohol.

But these bars stood the same they were decades ago, and had become a stagnant, tunring from a cornerstone to a corner-dive in dire need of innovation.


  • Loerie Awards - Silver - Applications, Games & Interactive Tools


Stones’ business is driven by coin-operated pool tables, but their biggest revenue driver comes from promotions by alcohol brands. However, brands were choosing to promote their beverages in newer bars, contemporary venues and flashy clubs. Stones’ needed to innovate to attract brands through the door again.


Attract people to Stones and spending more time there.

Commercial Objective
Reverse the falling clientel numbers and increase each customer’s value

Marketing Objective
Demonstrate to customers and alcohol companies that Stones has a unique & valuable sales proposition for them both

Communications Objective
Stones offers great value and limitless pool


Flowing alcohol keeps people playing pool, and flowing pool keeps people drinking beer.

A perfect match, however young South Africans work on a budget, and at some point will have to make the sacrifice of laying coins on the table to reseve their evening’s entertainment, or heading to the bar and ordering a round. Or worse, reach their end and head elsewhere for the evening…

Stones’ is the church of beer & pool – it’s a holy union, working together – how could we make people maximise the evening’s enjoyment by never having to make this choice?


Strategic Platform

Choice complicates the simple union of beer & pool

Creative Territory

AT Stones’ beer & pool is one and the same

Campaign Idea

Stones’ BOT


There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch game of pool?

We took a standard Stones pool table and reworked it to use beer bottles instead of coins to activate & release the balls.

Simple calibration and changes to the digital mechanism allowed Stones to recognise specific beer and alcopop brands, enabling them to mix it up & promote different brands who approach them whenver they wanted.

This proposition made Stones a very attactive lure for brands when thinking of user experience, ridding themselves of the tray-holding promo-girls, and allowing them to trigger the whole of South Africa on the same night by tweeting a post & flipping the table’s calibration switch across al Stones bars in the country, and of course, minimising costs.

All consumers have to do is buy the promotional beer or alcopop, place the bottle in the slot and enjoy the free game of pool. Not only attracting customers inside Stones bars around the country, but importantly, keeping customers inside.


How It Works

Experimenting with an Arduino, we identified each beer brand has a unique RGB colour signature. We replaced the coin-operated mechanisms of Stones’ standard pool tables with a beer hoster. The new mechanism uses a light-dependent resistor to recognise changes in light and intensity from bottle to bottle, allowing the Stones Table to recognise a specific beer brand, releasing the pool balls.

We performed further testing of pH balances and temperatures in order to create the best fail-proof system possible, and not get caught out by any sly pool-playing masters.

As it can be calibrated to specific brands, Stones can change the brand on promotion across any of their chain bars whenever they want to. All consumers have to do is slide their promotional beverage into the hoster and enjoy their free game.



Alcohol Brands

Client: Stones Pool Bar
Agency: Publicis Machine
ECD: Gareth McPherson
UX/Strategy: Mick Valentine

Developers: Mick Valentine / Johan Steyn / Dustin Silk / Bevan Christians / Gareth Cozens
Art Director: Joshua Foster
Copywriter: PJ Eales
Account management: Jamie Rossiter