Pernod Ricard CMO: ‘Digital can get us back to real marketing’

Pernod Ricard’s CMO Martin Riley has detailed its bid to get “back to real marketing” through digital innovation as it looks to turbo charge its investments in data, branded content, ecommerce and internal expertise.


Pernod Ricard is focusing its digital marketing efforts around data, branded content, ecommerce and internal expertise.

The drinks maker’s three-year corporation-wide overhaul, which ended last year, has set it on a path to offer what it claims is a “whole new way” to create marketing content in the alcohol arena. It says drinkers now want “fun”, “shareworthy” services that centre on mobile consumption rather than traditional brand campaigns that offer little value.

Upcoming efforts for brands such as Absolut, Jameson and Chivas Regal will experiment with branded social networks for advocates such as bartenders; co-creation and crowdsourced initiatives alongside farming out projects to content factories; and launching apps that allow users to organise their own social gatherings. The company’s first hackathon to create a new app earlier this week (28 January) highlighted this new direction with it planning to fund and potentially market the winning project.

Speaking at Pernod Ricard’s Innovation Day, Riley told Marketing Week its fledging digital strategy revolved around four pillars: data, branded content, ecommerce and internal expertise. The company’s digital managers, who would previously sit in a separate part of the marketing team, are increasingly being integrated into the main brand teams, he adds.

“[Digital] is a huge enabler and what we’ve got to figure out is to what extent we want it to be part of our strategies around each brand”, says Riley.

“It’s a key consideration for us a business at the moment. We understand how digital fits in with our overall strategic objectives but now it’s about determining how it can make our brands’ communications more effective and how it works best with other elements of the mix.”

With the group’s digital efforts centred on moving marketing campaigns from mass-targeted to one-to-one interactions, it is currently pushing both social commerce and location-based mobile offers. Pernod Ricard plans to sell limited edition products to its most loyal advocates on platforms such as Facebook, while also looking at how to serve geo-targeted ads to fans as they pass by bars and clubs.

Riley adds: “We need to be careful when creating these innovations for our brands because it needs to make sense to a consumer and provide a service. I don’t want to just drive people in to bars [through mobile ads] on price promotions. The ad needs to have a value message built into it.”

The digital drive is part of wider, corporate-level push to propel the discipline beyond marketing to other parts of the business. Pernod Ricard believes the move could elevate other parts of the group and deepen the brand experience across its portfolio for drinkers.

Riley says: “ When Paul Ricard started the Ricard business in France his team would get to know all the bars and café owners. Then we moved into TV and away from that individual marketing. Digital can help us recapture that one-to-one experience and get back to that real marketing.”

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