By Katie Deighton | Senior Reporter

June 23, 2017 | 3 min read

Connected devices, the internet of things and voice activation: all innovations the modern marketer usually confines to the bounds of the home. But in Cannes this year Diageo has teamed up with Dentsu Aegis agencies Isobar and iProspect to bring these technologies into a new consumer market: the bar.

The team has set up what Matt Gee, head of digital transformation at Isobar, classes as a “test and learn” initiative – albeit it under the sweltering sun on his parent company’s beach. Delegates order a cocktail or mocktail using a unique demo set-up fronted by Gee and Peri Antoniou, Diageo’s new technology and media innovation manager.

When asked for a drink, Alexa inquires if the guest would prefer something citrusy, fresh, fruity or intense. All cocktails – gin-based for now – have been created by Diageo mixologist Rob Poulter, and as well as hearing Alexa’s description of each cocktail, users are able to check out the recipes on an accompanying tablet.

Once their order is confirmed, guests’ drinks choices are sent as a notification to their waiter’s phone.

The demo, which has been set up with as an A/B experience in Cannes, was designed with two aims in mind: to take away pain points from the ordering experience and to uncover the point at which consumers and machines best intersect. It also no doubt falls under Diageo's wider strategy to reach younger audiences with digital technologies.

“We’re looking at things like how trigger words around flavours influence product choice and selection, and how accompanying visuals – which are going to be increasingly integrated into voice interfaces in the future – also play a role in our choices and selections,” said Gee.

Most brand experiments in the connected world have so far been confined to the home, with the fridge that reorders more food when it knows you’re running low being the poster child of the new marketing era. Gee believes the industry hasn’t experimented too much outside of these boundaries so far because of the complexities of other scenarios.

“When you start designing voice interfaces in more physical spaces where you’ve got a lot of people, you’ve really got to think about the whole overall design of the experience,” he said. “It’s not just the voice interface alone as a siloed activity [that you need to consider], but how that really interacts with all the points along the process, which are not only customers, not only the ordering interface, but also the staff.”

Gee added that while voice interface out of the home has the potential to increase the value of brands, marketers need to consider the usefulness and the purpose of the process first, and ally consumers with this medium that is relatively under-utilised in the west.

“Once you’ve built that type of relationship around utility, [then you can ask] how you can extend that into the brand engagement space as well,” he said. “So build the trust, build the behaviour, and then there are multiple opportunities to extend that into much more of a branded relationship.”

Follow The Drum's Cannes Lions coverage on the dedicated news stream

Below the Line Brand

Other episodes in the series

Episode 1

Cadbury unleashes the moo of its animatronic cow to promote bovine adoption promo

Cadbury Dairy Milk took to the ever-popular activation spot of the Southbank this week with an animatronic cow in order to promote its Buttons brand’s bovine adoption scheme.

Episode 3

Welcome to the mind of Mark Denton: a look at the work in his Art Mart gallery

The extraordinary creative mind that is Mark Denton has his own art gallery – a grocery shop styled show in Shoreditch, London.

Episode 4

Inside the San Miguel Experience: why the brand is investing in immersive events

San Miguel launched its Rich List campaign earlier this year in a bid to celebrate individuals who have dedicated their lives to seeking our new experiences. Now the beer purveyor is turning to live events to help recruit applicants.

Episode 5

‘It’s not a political statement’: why Publicis is celebrating immigration through artwork

Visit Publicis’ London office on Baker Street throughout August and you’ll find yourself in the midst of an art gallery curated to celebrate the creative lifeblood that immigrants – and the children of immigrants – bring to British culture. However the show should not be read as a political statement, according to the agency’s chief executive.

Episode 6

New York's window displays reviewed by Deutsch head of design Roger Bova

Holiday window displays by big retailers make the season sparkle, with shoppers mesmerized by the shiny details that go into each exhibit.

Episode 7

Behind the scenes of EasyJet's last minute Christmas campaign

On a snowy December morning outside of Terminal One of Gatwick Airport, Santa was seen clambering up and down an escalator without a reindeer close by.

Episode 8

ABB on why its title sponsorship of Formula E is as much about brand reputation as awareness

Tech company ABB hopes its title sponsorship of Formula E will finally make it a global name. But the deal is also fuelled by an authentic support of the race’s underlying philosophy – in spite of its political and sporting controversies.

Episode 9

#TrumpBaby takes flight – and proves the brand-building case for crowdfunding

Today (13 July) saw a rotund orange pocket of air fly above London’s Parliament Square in protest of Donald Trump’s visit to the UK. The huge media interest in the event has proven that crowdfunding a creative idea can not only work but can build a solid brand for the project in the process.

Episode 10

Panasonic wants consumers to adopt a ‘buy less, respect more’ approach to tech

Panasonic Design’s dark but calming installation at the London Design Biennale encapsulates the brand’s refreshed approach to tech – one that connects less with 20th century consumerism and more with the Japanese approach to care and respect.

More from Below the Line

View all