NFC Brings Contests, Content to Limited Jameson Whiskey Bottles

By Claire Swedberg

The company's 2017 limited-edition bottle targeted for St. Patrick's Day features an NFC tag with which Android phone users can connect with content about Jameson, as well as enter contests at Irish events.

Jameson Irish Whiskey is celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled system to provide consumer engagement with each of its limited-edition bottles. The whiskey brand, owned by global beverage firm Pernod Ricard, has launched its Limited Edition Bottle 2017, with technology to enable consumers to connect with content about the company and its product, and to be included in a drawing for several prizes specific to Ireland.

Jameson has released a limited-edition bottle timed around St Patrick's Day for many years, the company explains, but this is the first year that the bottle utilizes NFC technology. The 2017 edition features a design created by Dublin artist Steve McCarthy.

Pernod Ricard's Taryn Casey

The system was provided by U.K.-based Internet of Things company SharpEnd, a global technology innovation partner of Pernod Ricard's.

The beverage company has not indicated how many limited-edition bottles are being tagged, though it says the deployment is in the five-figure range. All of the bottles are being sold in Ireland, says Cameron Worth, SharpEnd's founder, and each one comes with an NXP Semiconductors NTAG213 22-millimeter round chip, applied behind the Jameson crest on the front label. The bottle also includes a neck-hanger label that provides printed information to consumers regarding how they can access content via their NFC-enabled phone.

The technology is intended to be used by consumers after they make their purchase—an "at home" experience, according to the company. They must first follow instructions on the hanging label to tap an NFC-enabled Android-based smartphone or tablet against the bottle label where the NFC tag is located, but do not require an app to communicate with the tag. The phone's built-in reader captures the bottle's unique ID number, prompting the phone to access Pernod Ricard's dedicated mobile website, where Jameson connected bottle content is located.

Once on the site, a phone user can access content about the company and the whiskey, and be entered into a contest. For instance, he or she can instantly win two tickets to tour the Jameson Distillery, or win an "Ultimate Jameson Experience," consisting of an overnight stay in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day. Users could also win tickets to Bow St. Sessions, a live music event held at the Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield.

The benefit for consumers, says Taryn Casey, the global head of digital at Pernod Ricard's Irish Distillers subsidiary, will be a richer interaction with the brand. "The NFC technology we're adopting makes this interaction seamless to drive engagement," she states.

SharpEnd's Cameron Worth

The system is intended to bring Jameson one step toward a more global deployment, Casey says. The company could use the technology not only to provide content to consumers, but also to offer authentication at stores, and to better understand where the products are being sold.

"The opportunity for the connected bottle is a global one," Casey says, "and at Jameson, we want to put the right pieces in place to leverage the opportunity." She further predicts that Apple will eventually open its NFC functionality beyond Apple Payments, and that it will make NFC-based solutions even more accessible to consumers.

On an immediate level, Casey reports, the key goal of the pilot is to "validate the product as an activation point for our campaigns, and to create a direct channel of communication with consumers."