Marketer's Brief: Phoenix shoppers can take a self-driving Waymo to Walmart

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Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to [email protected]

There is another bot behind the bar, courtesy of Tito's Vodka, the latest booze brand testing chatbots. Find out more below. But first, a look at the latest self-driving car news.

Driving optional

For some people in Arizona, no one could be behind the wheel of their next shopping trip. Waymo, the autonomous driving unit of Google-owner Alphabet Inc., has struck a deal with Walmart in which residents near Phoenix can use the self-driving cars to go to the store. The arrangement allows people to take a Waymo car after ordering groceries on Walmart.com. For now it's only available at a Walmart in Chandler, Arizona, south of Phoenix. Walmart workers will assemble the grocery order as Waymo cars take customers to and from pickup, "and all the while, those customers can text, nap, work," Walmart says.

Credit: Walmart

Waymo is also ferrying riders to a shopping mall in Chandler. And the AutoNation car retail chain is giving Phoenix-area residents the option to use a Waymo car as a loaner as their cars get serviced. "These businesses are national and what we learn from these programs will give us a network of partners when we launch in new cities down the road," Waymo says.

Bots take over the bar

Ask "Barkeep" how to make a martini and it's a sure bet you'll be told to use Tito's vodka. Barkeep is not a person, it's the latest branded chatbot. Tito's hooked up with Meredith's Allrecipes brand on the program, which comes to life on Facebook Messenger, offering trending and seasonally relevant cocktails recommendations tailored to each user's preferences. It's not the first. Patron, Diageo and Absolut have all experimented with bartending chatbots.

Chick-fil-A takes a bite of the meal kit biz

Chick-fil_a's meal kit
Chick-fil_a's meal kit Credit: Chik-fil-A

A fast-feeder is taking a shot at the meal kit business. Chick-fil-A will start selling cook-it-yourself kits in August at some of its Atlanta area restaurants. No surprise, chicken is the main ingredient in the dishes, which include chicken enchiladas, pan roasted chicken and chicken parmesan. Chick-fil-A is diving into the business at an interesting time. HelloFresh surpassed Blue Apron to become the largest U.S. meal kit delivery service earlier this year. Another competitor, Chef'd, recently abruptly shut down and then quickly found a buyer. According to the NPD Group, only about 3.5 percent of households use meal kit delivery services, so there's a lot of room for growth if the, um, appetite is there from diners.

Chikin for life

But wait, there's more Chick-fil-A news: The brand, whose "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign has been running for years, got good buzz after one of its locations gave a baby girl born at a San Antonio restaurant (yes, really) free food for life and the offer of employment when she's old enough. It also got a little negative buzz in Connecticut, where a "we welcome everyone" message on a McDonald's sign right near a new location is being interpreted by some as knocking the anti-gay marriage comments made in the past by executive Dan Cathy.

Do kids need more free time?

Parenting advice from an applesauce brand? GoGo SqueeZ, the maker of squeezable pouches of applesauce and other snacks for kids, is trying to get the attention of parents by plugging the idea of more unstructured free time, or "Be Time," for children. It wants parents to commit to giving their kids at least 30 more minutes of daily unstructured time and to get schools to welcome that kind of time, including grants being given to schools in a partnership with Action for Healthy Kids. The campaign includes a TV ad, plus a video showing how parents feel about free time. The agencies are Edible (part of Edelman) and Match MG.

Staying Lively

Lingerie brand Lively is opening its first retail store today on Mulberry Street in Manhattan. The brand, which started as an ecommerce site selling bras and underwear two years ago, will offer styling appointments and also La Croix for thirsty shoppers.

Lite goes local

Chicago is an important market for MillerCoors. The brewer is based in the Second City, and relies on it for a ton of Miller Lite sales volume. Now Lite is touting its place in Chicago with an ad that thanks the city for "making us your number one beer." The spot, by DDB Chicago, includes a Lite-branded street mural by Chicago artist Franco Campanella, who goes by "Lefty." While Bud Light is the biggest beer nationally, Miller Lite in Chicago sold more than two times the amount that Bud Light sold in the year ending April 21, according to MillerCoors.

Would you buy this?

Cattleman's Cut Texas Style Flank Steak Beef Jerky.
Cattleman's Cut Texas Style Flank Steak Beef Jerky. Credit: Oberto

Here's more proof that jerky is no longer just for gas stations. Premium varieties and new flavors have flooded the market in recent years. The latest comes from Oberto, whose "Cattleman's Cut" brand now has Texas Style Flank Steak Beef Jerky, which it claims is the first-ever flank steak jerky.

Number of the Week

46: The percent of Gen Zers who have a picture of a dessert on their phone right now, according to custom research from The Center for Generational Kinetics for Hershey.

Tweet of Week

Comings and Goings

JP Morgan Chase has hired its first chief media officer. Andrew Knott, who will report to chief marketing officer Kristin Lemkau, was most recently Down Under as CMO of National Australia Bank. He's tasked with fine-tuning Chase's owned and paid media strategy.

Contributing: E.J. Schultz, Adrianne Pasquarelli, Jessica Wohl.

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