UK – Diageo, the renowned producer of brands such as Johnnie Walker, Don Julio, and Guinness, has introduced a ‘Breakthrough Innovation’ team, a subsidiary within its existing Innovation function, aimed at shaping innovation beyond the realm of new product development. 

In line with the company’s commitment to redefining social experiences, the Breakthrough team is tasked with encouraging innovators to think differently, behave differently, and create transformative value.  

According to the Johnie Walker producer, while the core innovation focuses on product development, the Breakthrough team will concentrate on building new platforms and business models that will redefine the future of Diageo, its consumers, and society. 

The team will contribute value through three key avenues. Firstly, it will drive Diageo’s entry into new platforms, technologies, and experiences, building on previous successes like the AI-powered whisky experience ‘What’s Your Whisky.’  

Secondly, it will play a crucial role in shaping the future of Diageo’s existing brand portfolio, providing more reasons for consumers to engage with them. This includes initiatives such as the launch of ‘Elli,’ Seedlip’s virtual AI-concierge introduced last year. 

Moreover, the team will actively contribute to Diageo’s progress towards its ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ goals, a 10-year ESG action plan.  

The Breakthrough team will actively seek partnerships to collaborate on testing and learning breakthrough ideas, with initiatives like Diageo’s recent Accelerator program ‘Fusion by Diageo,’ identifying leading innovators to co-develop the next generation of digital products. 

Heading the Breakthrough Innovation team is the Global Breakthrough Innovation Director Guy Middleton, formerly General Manager Innovation – Asia Pacific.  

Middleton emphasizes the team’s ambition to test, learn, and ‘de-risk’ new ideas, ensuring that breakthrough innovations are less susceptible to potential threats and more effective at propelling Diageo forward. 

Middleton said, “The Breakthrough Innovation team has been created to stretch Diageo’s thinking beyond what it is today, ‘painting a picture’ of a future that is desirable for Diageo, our consumers, and society as a whole.” 

He further added, “We’re a company built on great innovators like Arthur Guinness and Johnnie Walker, and the launch of this team is a big step towards ensuring our brands remain at the forefront of social celebration.” 


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