Giving Alexa a new voice. Your voice.

Just last week the movie, the Sound of Music celebrated its 53rd anniversary, or so social media tells me. It got me thinking. Music and voice has been the bedrock on which the way we communicate has been built. Radio was once upon a time hailed as the golden medium to be on. Today both music and the spoken word come together in a unique way with the Amazon Echo. As a digital communication specialist, it is pretty amazing what you could potentially do with this device. It is really easy for you to, for example, build an entire voice activated experience with an Alexa skill that integrates your brand name as a trigger phrase and the skill name to reinforce your brand messaging. All this with an off-the-shelf product and a little bit of customisation.

An echo of an inspiration

I put this to a test recently as a hypothetical proof of concept for the brand Ribena. Ribena is a juice brand popular in Singapore and Malaysia and they had recently faced a product recall due to a fault in their bottling plant. Relaunching the product, with no apparent additions to the actual product would mean creating a buzz around the product in a new way without focusing on the product benefit per se.  A voice activated campaign seemed sound. Pun intended. As it might just have a first mover’s advantage to craft a differentiated experience in this space. While it is true that brands like Mercedes-Benz have an AI experience that relies on you conversing with the AI to select the right car for you, this is something that would take a considerable amount of time and money to develop. By using an Amazon Echo you could craft something more meaningful and subtle. And a bit humorous as well. After all, when was the last time you talked to your drink? Especially when you were sober. Hearing voices in your head? Fear not it could just be a next generation voice activated marketing experience you are hearing.

The larger experience

While voice is an important anchor to this brand experience, it needs to be part of a bigger experience. Voice or any new tech by itself is not a means to an end . It needs to fulfil a purpose. With Singapore having such a strong drink culture (of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) with little differentiation in drinking habits over the year, the challenge is to cannibalise one category of drink for another. After all, if you are addicted to drinking Kopi how are you going to fill yourself with juice latter? One potentially un-addressed need creeps up within the social environment of Singapore and is applicable beyond its shores. With so many expats and locals leading busy lives, it can be challenging to make new friends in the city. When there are get-togethers of the fabled networking meetups that Singapore is known for, striking a conversation when coming in from the cold can be challenging. How do you quickly find that common ground that great conversations are made from? What do those who can’t resort to Dutch courage turn too? Well it is this space that the Amazon Echo lends a perfect opportunity too for a brand like Ribena. Ensuring an evening of free flowing conversation and their new favourite beverage.

The idea

Combine the Amazon echo with the social experience of drinking and create a digitally enabled pitcher which gets the conversation flowing around the table. The echo is perfect for this due to its 360 degree speaker and the fact that it has this nifty LED that glows (like KITT from Knight Rider) in the direction a voice that it hears. Creates a dedicated skill around party games and ice breaking conversation starters and you have something that is unique and becomes a potential platform for future marketing communications.

If you are worried that the experience in itself gets subsumed by the Amazon Echo brand, perhaps I should point out here that you need to jacket the device (in more ways than one) in a way that ensures that people aren’t talking about Amazon Echo but your brand. It’s important to customise each echo device. Change the trigger word. Give the name of your skill some thought so that it flows well with the conversation. What’s more think about portability. You are going to need to battery power that Echo device. Pushing updates to your skill is not too hard, so keep that content refreshing.

Given below are a few of the slides that outline my idea for Ribena. They are excerpts, part of a larger social media and digital presentation I did as part of a hypothetical case for the brand. Cheers!

Think you need to have your voice heard to jump on the Voice Marketing bandwagon? Hit me up. Want to learn more about this presentation, you can send me a message via Linkedin.