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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Johnnie Walker takes another step to keep walking

From ailing whisky producer 
to global icon: 
Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s campaign for Johnnie Walker reversed the trend in the brand's value.
It was awarded the Grand Prix, the highest accolade, at the 2008 IPA Effectiveness Awards for their global campaign. 
Finding the right strategic direction can fundamentally unlock the value of the brand and liberate the creative process. Johnnie Walker is a fabulous example.
Whisky had always been sold as the drink for people who were successful, it’s about celebration. 
But success isn’t a place .... it’s a journey and really successful people are always moving forward.
Unlocking that truth and aligning the sentiment with the Johnnie Walker brand through great creative work, based on our ‘Keep Walking’ thought allowed us to create incredibly effective advertising.

A one-shot-wonder for Johnnie Walker. 

A piper wails in a misty glen, surrounded by craggy highland scenery - not the most surprising start to a Scotch whiskey ad perhaps. And the spot's star agrees. Into the screen marches Robert Carlyle, who tells the piper to 'shut it', before launching into his story. 

The film, for Johnnie Walker, The Man Who Walked Around The World, sees Carlyle stride through an impossible Scottish rugged landscape.

(the making of.... here)



In 1805, John Walker was born at Todriggs Farm near Kilmarnock.
John was just a local farm boy, but there was something special about the lad – a glint in his eye, a fire in his belly, a spring in his step.
One day he went for a walk – this walk began when his father died. The year was 1819 and he was just 14 years old. These were the days when young boys were sent into the fields, the mills, the mines – tough times. But young John was smart enough to be lucky. His father’s farm where he was born and raised, was sold and the proceeds used to open a grocer’s.
Big responsibility for the wee lad. His own shop in Kilmarnock, has his name on the door: John Walker. Or Johnnie, as the world now knows him.
Back then, all grocers stocked a range of local single malts, but they could be a wee bit inconsistent. For John, that wasn’t good enough. He began blending different malts together as a way of offering his customers a consistent, unique product. Now, this backroom art quickly developed into a commercial proposition and a very profitable one. And because there was nothing like a commercial proposition to stir the Scottish heart, it grew quickly into an industry filled with ambitious entrepreneur distillers.
John thrived in this environment, and so too soon would be his sons, Alexander and Robert, who joined him on his journey. The Walkers became the biggest name in a rapidly growing industry. They were unstoppable.
In one bold bit of 19th century corporate raiding, they bought the famed distillery at Cardhu, lock, stock and ensuring their supply of this silky single malt, and guaranteeing, most importantly, that none of the other big blenders could get their hands on it.
But young Alexander wasn’t content with being Scotland’s biggest blender. Not ambitious enough for him. He convinced the ship’s captains of Glasgow to act as agents for him, and drove the whisky bearing his father’s name across the globe.
By 1860, he had developed the square bottle, now with a label at an angle of precisely 24°. No big deal, you might think, but you’d be wrong. The square bottle meant less breakages and more bottles per shipment. The diagonal label meant larger type and together that meant JOHNNIE WALKER® had an unmistakeable presence on any shelf in the world. The bottle became an icon, and the rich liquid it contained sought after and consumed across the globe. Quite a character, Alexander Walker – master of the blender’s art, ambitious, uncompromising.

It was John’s grandsons, George and Alexander II’s turn to join him on his journey. They led the brand into the 20th century. By 1909, they had developed the iconic Red Label and Black Label, and persuaded Tom Browne, the best young illustrator of the day, to sketch a Striding Man™ on the back of a menu card during a business lunch. In the stroke of a pen, the Victorian grocer was transformed into an Edwardian dandy.

By 1920, Johnnie’s walk had taken him through 120 countries, and he continued walking through the brand’s advertising over the next 50 years, into the fabric of global culture, deep into the dark hearts of several wars, to the pleasure palaces of the aristocracy, immortalised by screen legends, celebrated by filmmakers, singers, songwriters, novelists, shoulder-to-shoulder with the great sportsmen of the age, winning countless international awards for quality and even being awarded the Royal Warrant by King George V.

By the end of the 20th century, the familiar Red Label and Black Label were joined by the Green Label, the Gold Label and, the grandest of them all, JOHNNIE WALKER® Blue Label.

By the beginning of the 21st century, JOHNNIE WALKER® wasn’t just the world’s biggest whisky brand, but an international symbol of progress, the brand’s ‘KEEP WALKING’ mantra adopted by pro-democracy protestors and parliamentary speech writers.

What would the farm-born Victorian grocer have thought of all of these? He’d have loved it. A Victorian farm-born grocer he might have be, but he, and the family that followed him, were possessed by a fiery ambition, with the skill and intelligence to match. 

Two hundred years later, and JOHNNIE WALKER® is still walking. And he’s not showing any signs of stopping.

To be very honest, I know very little of the Walkers before this. Now, I am truly inspired and encouraged to keep moving forward in life and ambition.


'Keep walking'

Sold in more than 180 markets, it is the world's
largest whisky brand by some margin, with more
than $4.5 billion in sales in 2007. The brand's
portfolio ranges from Blue Label, one of the world's
most expensive whiskies, to Red Label, the world's
most popular.
Back in 1999, however, Johnnie Walker was on red
In the preceding three years, volume sales had
fallen by 14 per cent, while market share was also in
steady decline.
For a brand with such a proud past, the future was
looking bleak; Bartle Bogle Hegarty was called to
pitch for the business.
The brief was twofold:
to immediately reverse sales fortunes; and to
develop a future-proof global communications


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