Blog: Andy MortonPernod Ricard looks for material gains with wearable tech

Andy Morton | 29 January 2014

Here at just-drinks we like to be on the cutting-edge of technology, so here's a nod (and a wink) to the latest in fashion unveiled at Pernod Ricard's "innovation" day in Paris this week. 

Below is our exclusive footage of a T-shirt that displays personalised messages and images keyed in from a computer or mobile device. The women holding it is creator Alison Lewis, who owns Californian wearable technology firm Switch, and the prototype design was only completed a few days before it was brought to Paris.

But what's this got to do with drinks?

Well, the technology is part-funded by Pernod's blended Scotch whisky brand Ballantine's, who's marketing team came up with the idea a few years ago. An earlier prototype in 2012 managed to bring about 200,000 visitors to Ballantine's website and was featured in about 500 blogs. That prototype, however, was not very wearable, and came with a EUR14,000 (US$19,000) price tag. The new one is washable and scrunchable, and a comparative snip, at just EUR3,000!

What you won't find on the T-shirt, however, is the Ballantine's logo. Brand managers are aware a personalised message system is open to abuse and don't want the whisky associated with the questionable words and images that users will inevitably broadcast on their chests. Which rather raises the question, to what end is Pernod investing in this tech?

On Tuesday, I was told that the success of the earlier prototype in raising Ballantine's profile means the project can already be deemed a success. But why keep investing in something that doesn't appear to give anything back to the brand? Pernod doesn't even have rights to the technology - that belongs to Switch, with the French group merely owning the project's name, T-shirt OS.

Strange that a campaign that is all about delivering a message might not do the same for Pernod.

To read a comment piece on Pernod's innovation day, click here.

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