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Pssst, That Bottle Is Talking to You

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At any given moment, Diageo has between 2.5 billion and 3 billion bottles sitting in stores around the world, acting as passive "pitchmen" for its brands. Now Diageo has found a way for the bottles to literally speak to the consumers who buy them.

For +More Father's Day promo, buyers send a video message to Dad by scanning with their phone.
For +More Father's Day promo, buyers send a video message to Dad by scanning with their phone.

Using technology developed by software company Evrythng, Diageo assigned an individual code that created a special identity for its whiskey brands in Brazil for a promotion timed to Father's Day, celebrated there in August. When consumers scanned the code on the bottle using a smartphone, it allowed them to personalize a film template by adding a photo and a personal message to their dads. Dad could then view the film by scanning the bottle with his own phone.

"We call it +More because there's more to the bottle than meets the eye," said Venky Balakrishnan, Diageo's VP-marketing innovation. "The bottle has become a medium, but it's not one size fits all."

Andy Hobsbawn, founder and CMO of Evrythng, said that "in the same way that we have a digital identity through something like Facebook, each bottle has its own digital profile and access to everything web services can provide. We're turning physical products into owned digital assets and building a direct, one-to-one digital relationship with the consumer."

Marketers don't have to buy the technology; they pay only for the cloud service and the ongoing management of the data collected.

"It's incredibly rich," Mr. Balakrishnan said. "We can go back to the same person later in the year and remind them of other opportunities around Christmas, for example, or about events, tastings, offers -- anything we do in the world of whiskey. We also get to understand the geography of a bottle and the journey it makes."

Mr. Hobsbawn said Evrything is formally launching this week, with offices in London and Zurich. Other potential applications include a camera that tells you where and when to get the perfect shot, or a dress that knows about fashion and can help its owner create a whole look to match, he said.

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