Heineken® uses artificial intelligence to entertain football fans with the ‘gift of the gab’

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The Twittersphere buzzed with excitement on 28th May 2016, during the UEFA Champions League (UCL) Final, with the world’s first artificially intelligent football commentator – the Heineken® Banternator.

Banter and the beautiful game form part and parcel of the football experience. The idea behind the Twitter bot was to create an amusing conversation between football fans and the ‘Banternator’ through an exchange of witty, humorous and entertaining responses.

“With Heineken’s UCL partnership, we wanted to give football fans and consumers a unique, innovative experience during the UCL Final. The result on the night was the world’s first football banter bot, a one-of-a-kind innovation that highlights Heineken’s commitment to its fans and their passion for the game”, says Tjeerd Veldhuis, Marketing Manager at Heineken® South Africa.

Creative agency, M&C Saatchi Abel, were briefed by the brand to find a new way for football fans to celebrate match night in an innovative way.

“We know that while Heineken® consumers love football, the daily hustle keeps them busy, so they often watch the game on a second screen, their mobile phones,” commented Brett Burton, Creative Director, M&C Saatchi Abel. “As banter is a big part of people’s game-night experience, we had an idea – why not create an intelligent bot that loves Heineken® and football just as much as they do?”

The result was the Banternator, a real-time responding Twitter bot on the @Heineken_SA handle that consumers could exchange banter with throughout the Final.

Developing the bot involved identifying and analysing various scenarios that could play out during the UCL Final. The bot was then taught to respond to Heineken® consumers with contextually relevant football banter based on all of the aspects of the game (i.e. Kick-off, Goal, Miss, Foul, Extra Time, Penalties).

A vast bank of bite-size content was further collated and compiled in the form of GIFs, short clips and text responses, which could be delivered to football-loving consumers who engaged and bantered on the night of the UCL Final using #UpYourGame on Twitter.

Veldhuis concludes, “Digital innovation is key to Heineken and our creative agency has raised the bar in terms of our engaging with our consumers, as well as showcasing the true power of our brand beyond the traditional marketing mix.”

Join the conversation on Twitter at @Heineken_SA using #UpYourGame

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