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Joy Barnett/Brad Converse, writers
George Ellis, creative director
Lane Jordan, interactive creative director
Craig Mikes, executive creative director
Matt Morris, interactive designer
C.B. Stubblefield, voice talent
J. Hausmann, project design and development
Proof Advertising, ad agency
Stubbs Bar-B-Q, client

“Fun use of Alexa to bring the spirit of Stubb’s brand to life in a playful and useful way. I love how simple it is and the fact that it’s based on actual archival material.” —juror Eva Mautino

“I need to be really impressed and convinced of its benefit for me to enable an Alexa skill. This activation did just that by going beyond stunt use of a new technology to provide interesting and practical information through a very creative and charming experiential layer.” —juror Erika Tarte

Overview: As anyone who has used Amazon Alexa knows, the voice service provides capabilities called “skills.” In 2017, Austin, Texas–based agency Proof Advertising launched a new skill that was nearly 50 years in the making. Created for sauce brand Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, the skill acts as a hands-free manual full of barbecue knowledge from C.B. “Stubb” Stubblefield. Proof dug way back in the audio archives to find real Stubb wisdom spoken by the late barbecue master. Just by saying, “Alexa, ask Stubb,” users can listen to favorite tunes, hear barbecue tips and get recipes from the man himself.

• The skill includes ten tips, more than 20 recipes and a few of Stubb’s favorite songs.
• Users can order Stubb’s Bar-B-Q sauce directly from the skill.
• After the first week of launch, Ask Stubb was featured as a popular skill on the Alexa Skills Store.

Comments by Craig Mikes:
From concept to completion, how long did the project take to produce? “After quickly building a prototype, the entire process took approximately eight weeks. A lot of our developer’s time was spent sitting alone in a room, talking to Alexa.”

Did you meet with any out-of-the-ordinary obstacles during development? “Although working with new technology and being inventive is always a challenge, developing a product with no visual interface was a new challenge for us. We tried to create an intuitive experience even though there is no physical device to engage. We also had a limited amount of relevant audio sound bites spoken by Stubb to work with, so creating a seamless dialogue back and forth between Alexa and the user required a balance of creativity and functionality. We had to find natural ways to blend Stubb’s sound bites and Alexa’s information together. It was interesting to see how they could play off each other.”

What was the thinking behind the navigational structure? “Designer and author Golden Krishna said it best: ‘The best interface is no interface.’ Amazon Alexa was a natural choice for this execution, as it’s a key component of the modern kitchen. All you have to do is ‘Ask Stubb’ in order to have him and Alexa guide you through recipes, tips, music and ordering.”

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