Ask Jerry - a personal bartender in your pocket
2016 – 2018
Pernod Ricard China
Pernod Ricard is the world’s second-largest wine and spirits seller. They own dozens of brands such as Jameson, Beefeater, Olmeca and Absolut amongst others. And while their clear spirit brands enjoy success on the Chinese market, their cocktail-related portfolio did not enjoy such popularity.
Back in 2015, cocktail bars were not as prevalent as they are now and products like gin, tequila or rum could not find their customer. Pernod Ricard did not treat them as separate brands with their own marketing budget, but saw it as a cocktail portfolio that is mostly sold B2B to bars and restaurants.
They were looking to find ways to grow the share of that cocktail portfolio. What we have identified as that even with majority B2B sales, if we can increase overall customer interest and spark demand for craft cocktails, the sales would go up.
We knew that missing customer demand for cocktails came from a lack of education. Chinese consumers are very familiar with clear spirits and rituals around them. Cocktails however seem distant, overly sophisticated and intimidating.
Our initial brief was to create an educational platform, a cocktail wiki. There, customers could get familiar with cocktails and so lower their threshold to try and order some. Instead, we wanted to create not just some text-heavy encyclopedia, but to recreate a cocktail bar experience. Not just the cocktail itself, but the intimate experience a cocktail bar should be – an interaction with a bartender.
We have chosen a platform that, by then, was innovating how Chinese audiences engage with each other and communicate – it was WeChat. People are familiar with it and use it to communicate with their friends and family. So we created a virtual character – Jerry Thomas, a hommage to the cocktail pioneer and the “the father of American mixology”.
Ask Jerry became the WeChat platform for all things cocktails. The virtual bartender could engage in one-on-one conversations, answer questions about history, spirits, tell recipes, suggest bars to visit, tell jokes and even flirt.
With chatbot at the core of the experience, we developed a custom data platform that could collect detailed data of our users into complex CRM profiles. Jerry gathered knowledge about his patrons’ flavours, favourite spirits, learned about their occupation, drinking habits, tastes and preferences.
As the platform grew, Ask Jerry could use the user data to offer more personalised experiences, like a real bartender. For example, the platform could predict customer interest in specific products and suggest the following steps, recommending e-commerce products, events, venues, or simply engaging customers with another witty conversation.