Johnnie Walker enlists Alexa and Facebook Messenger bots for cocktail-mixing

Johnnie Walker wants to chat with you.

The Diageo-owned whisky brand is the latest marketer to launch on Amazon’s smart speaker Echo, giving you everything from personalized whisky-tasting tours to cocktail recipes. All you have to do is tap Echo’s voice service Alexa and say “Alexa, open Johnnie Walker.”

When you turn it on, it welcomes you by saying, “If you’ve got questions, I’ve got two centuries of whisky answers,” before promptly carding you by asking for your birthdate to make sure you’re of legal drinking age. From there, you can either choose to boost your whisky IQ or find a blend for yourself or a gift depending on your taste preference and budget. Ask it for whisky IQ, and Alexa might go onto tell you that only one in 10,000 casks are chosen to blend blue label. Or say “Choose a label,” and Alexa will give you a blend depending on your taste preference and budget.

The brand has also launched a Facebook Messenger bot that can also direct you to purchasing your favorite blend, guide you through hosting a tasting and even give you instructions on mixing up a cocktail. The Messenger bot is integrated with several features to give users a seamless experience: like ReserveBar which lets them order engraved bottles if they please, Cocktail Courier for getting ingredients for cocktails delivered to their doorsteps and Drizly for e-commerce delivery.

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“In this digital age, everything is available online, on the latest app or your new tablet — so why not whisky?,” said Stephanie Jacoby, vp of marketing at Johnnie Walker. “Our strategy is to bring our brand credentials to life in interesting and relevant ways and to engage consumers by making whisky education fun and more accessible.”

Johnnie Walker’s agency, VaynerMedia, created the effort, which includes a series of online videos featuring mixologist Jeff Bell. One is a long-form video, where Bell will host an in-depth tasting of the brand’s full portfolio of flavors. Johnnie Walker will also be releasing a variety of short-form videos across its various social properties throughout the year. The activations are a part of the brand’s new “digital mentorship program,” through which it seeks to build brand affinity by showcasing what goes into its craft, blending expertise and giving them a peek into its brand history.

Johnnie Walker joins an increasing number of brands that are trying to automate their interactions with consumers, both through both bots and voice recognition services like Alexa. While a range of brands from Sephora to KLM have created bots on platforms like Kik and Facebook Messenger, others like Patrón, Uber and Spotify have integrated with Amazon Echo.These features not only reduce friction in a customer’s journey but, above all, are opt-in experiences where brands also try to be users’ friends, enabling everything from cocktail recommendations to personalized beauty tutorials.

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