Marketing Brand Strategy Hendrick's Gin

Hendrick’s Gin plays on AI marketing mania with ‘Chat G&T’

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By Webb Wright | Reporter

April 20, 2023 | 6 min read

The drinks brand is leaning into humor and good old-fashioned human fallibility as a growing number of companies seek to wow audiences with the capabilities of ChatGPT and other ‘generative AI’ models.

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Hendrick’s is taking a slightly different approach in its efforts to capitalize on excitement surrounding ChatGPT. / Adobe Stock

Hendrick’s Gin is hoping to catch a buzz on the generative AI boom with a new social media marketing effort called “Chat G&T,” a play on the name of the immensely popular text-generating AI model ChatGPT.

At a time when a slew of brands – including Snap, Instacart and Expedia – are capitalizing on the rise of ChatGPT with their own AI-powered chatbot integrations, Hendrick’s is taking a different approach: rather than trying to impress fans with the much-publicized linguistic abilities of OpenAI’s GPT-4 – the latest iteration of the large language model which undergirds ChatGPT – the Scottish gin company is going for laughs.

The new marketing campaign – which will run at 12 pm ET today on the brand’s US Instagram account – will consist of “Elliot,” who’s described in a statement from Hendrick’s Gin as “a five-year university student who obtained his knowledge via diverse life experiences and a fair amount of unchartered traveling.”

In contrast to the highly articulate and polished responses for which ChatGPT has become known, it seems likely that Elliot’s responses to user questions will be a bit more outlandish. And he will, of course, be sipping on a Hendrick’s G&T throughout the Instagram Live event.

“While not the most efficient chatting service, we believe Elliot is the most tasteful,” the brand said in the statement. “Whether regaling you with jokes, belting out your favorite lullaby while advising you on cocktail pairings or telling you what the capital city of Tuvalu is, chatting with Elliot is to be best enjoyed with your very own Hendrick’s Gin & Tonic in hand.”

Hendrick’s is playing on another trope of the burgeoning ChatGPT-fueled marketing extravaganza by highlighting Elliot’s shortcomings. In recent months, brands launching their own AI-related campaigns will typically issue some kind of warning about the possibility of “hallucination” – that is, the tendency for AI models to unexpectedly veer from their training data and generate inaccurate or bizarre responses. Elliot, like most slightly inebriated college students across the world, is apparently also prone to his own kind of hallucination: “Is not always right,” warns an image from Hendrick’s new campaign outlining Elliot’s “limitations.”

He has also been “trained to avoid politics” (another play on AI lingo) and is “allergic to cats.”

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Elliot’s “capabilities,” according to the same campaign image, in some ways fall far short of those of AI and in others exceed well beyond them. He may not be able to provide a cogent explanation of quantum mechanics in the style of William Shakespeare – a task in which ChatGPT would undoubtedly excel – but he “can carve a cucumber into something somewhat resembling a porpoise.” (Cucumbers, a common G&T garnish, are a recurring theme in Hendrick’s social media marketing.)

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At the moment, many marketers are in the “ooh-aah” phase of their relationships with generative AI models. That’s perfectly understandable; these technologies are quite new, impressive and rapidly improving. But the new campaign from Hendrick’s – silly and short-lived though it might be – offers an intriguing glimpse into a potential reversal in strategy that could occur as the marketing world inevitably becomes oversaturated with AI-powered campaigns and gimmicks: as the age of AI progresses, maybe it will be the human quirks that we’ve so long taken for granted – like allergies and a talent for carving animals out of fruit – that more and more brands will start to celebrate.

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Marketing Brand Strategy Hendrick's Gin

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