Diageo is partnering with Amazon Prime to create a series of shoppable films in the shape of a travel documentary series called "World Class List".
The shows capture a bartender's-eye view of five global cities: Sydney, Barcelona, Mexico City, San Francisco and Taipei. They can be seen on Amazon Prime in the U.K., and Germany, with further video-on-demand partners and markets to follow.
The 20-minute films promote Diageo's "Reserve" portfolio of premium brands, which include Dutch Vodka Ketel One, Don Julio tequila, Cîroc vodka, Ron Zacapa Guatemalan rum, Johnnie Walker's luxury variants, and Haig Club whisky. In the U.K. and Germany, links to Diageo's ecommerce site are embedded in the films.
Johanna Dalley, World Class director at Diageo, said, "We are connecting content with commerce. We have worked closely with Amazon on a market-by-market basis to create custom landing pages with a direct link to purchase."
The series is being promoted on the brands' social media platforms and through its brand ambassadors, and in the U.S. there is a partnership with Time Out.
Diageo launched World Class in 2009 as a training program for bartenders, as a way to raise awareness of the company's brand portfolio in bars and clubs. Since then, World Class has developed to encompass a global competition, in which the finalists complete four days of cocktail-related challenges.
"We've made a consistent investment in World Class over a long period and we sense the time is right to go out to a more consumer audience," Dalley said. "This is our first foray into lifestyle programming. We want to capitalize on cocktail culture and encourage people to be experimental in home drinking."
The five shows are unscripted, and feature host Carey Watkins exploring the cities with the help of superstar bartenders and their insider knowledge. A bespoke cocktail is created to capture the essence of each city.
"Good food used to be about fine dining, but now it's much more accessible with pop ups, guest chefs and food festivals; New World wines have democratized the wine industry," Dalley said. "We want to show that you can create great drinks quite simply at home to capitalize on the tide of interest in quality spirits and the provenance behind them – people care what they drink, where they drink and how they drink."
Viewing figures aren't in yet, but Dalley said that feedback from consumer tests showed that 80% wanted to watch more, and were more likely to seek out the products they'd seen in bars or stores.
Sales of Diageo's reserve brands, which represent 15% of the total, grew 7% in 2016. The group's "global giants" – including Smirnoff, Guinness and Johnnie Walker – grew sales by 3% last year and made up 40% of total sales last year.
The films were created with content agency Something Studios. Dalley said, "We wanted to make sure the products were prominent enough to see and remember, but to make sure the visibility was credible and authentic."