Campbell Soup is out with a new way to entice people to cook with its food, having Alexa suggest recipes to Amazon
Umang Shah, director of digital marketing and marketing innovation at Campbell's, said the company is always trying to create ways to connect with its audience. He has his own Amazon Echo, the tubular device that can read the weather, check sports scores, play music and handle other functions. The device has users speak to Alexa, Amazon's name for a voice service, to ask for what they want.
So when Rain, Campbell's digital agency, suggested an idea to build something for the Echo, Mr. Shah was game. His Echo rests on a counter between his living room and his kitchen, and he has used it while cooking.
"I like to listen to music when I cook," said Mr. Shah, who said he plays music through it and knows it's there if he needs to calculate the proper measurements for recipes.
Now, roughly five weeks later, the Campbell's Kitchen app, or skill, as Echo functions are known, is ready for launch. Campbell is one of the first consumer or food brands on Echo.
Amazon also said it was the fastest skill ever to be certified, said Mr. Shah, speaking with Ad Age from Las Vegas, where he showed off the Campbell's Kitchen work at Amazon Web Services' annual user conference, AWS re:Invent. Mr. Shah said he also discussed the process during a closed-door meeting with the Amazon developer advisory committee on Tuesday.
According to an Amazon spokeswoman, a number of brands are working to build skills for Alexa. StubHub, for example, has already debuted a skill that allows customers to search for events in their area.
Developers walking the show floor can see a giant Echo erected by Amazon, which Campbell took over for the day on Wednesday, while demonstrating its own Echo device painted white with the Campbell's Kitchen logo.
The Campbell's Kitchen skill offers five recipes based on a user's profile and other data. It will factor in the weather and details such as food trends as well as what's trending on its website. Then, the user tells Alexa which recipe it wants, and it is sent directly to the user via email or whatever preference the person has selected.
It is too early to say how many Campbell's Kitchen users might access the function on an Echo, or even know how many people have an Echo as well as a user profile on the site. But for Mr. Shah, the opportunity stretches beyond the device, especially as kitchen devices are expected to become more and more connected to the web and to owners' mobile devices.
"Regardless of the technology in this physical device, the approach and the interaction we think will live on," Mr. Shah said, as Amazon will continue to evolve what it does with voice.
As he told a crowd at Advertising Week last month, Mr. Shah saw such potential in the idea that he took funding away from some other marketing innovation work to get this moving quickly. "We just thought there was good enough potential here," he told Ad Age.
The skill, which is in developer preview now, is going through certification and should be available at the end of October, Mr. Shah said. For now, Campbell has no plans to sell its branded Echo, which comes in white, red and grey and was made to celebrate. "Because we were the first to market with the skill and no other CPG has done it we wanted to actually create a custom version," said Mr. Shah.