Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

When “Keep Walking” Was Shelved: How Johnnie Walker Overhauled Its Marketing Tactics

Selling whisky isn’t an easy job. Whisky-makers have only a specific set of products that appeals and is enjoyed by a limited clientele. Yet, Johnnie Walker maintains a robust presence in more than 180 markets globally.

A big part of its international success is the company’s advertising campaigns.

But, times are changing, and so must Johnnie Walker.

With a run of over 15 years, Johnnie Walker retired its iconic “Keep Walking” campaign just last year. The campaign practically propelled Johnnie Walker and the slogan, “Keep Walking” to seminal heights, creating lasting impressions on both consumers and viewers alike.

How has Johnnie Walker adapted to this change? Let’s take a look then at its massive marketing overhaul!

1. Marketing refreshers to suit the changing global perspective

Just late last year, Johnnie Walker launched its biggest campaign yet, “Joy Will Take You Further”, signalling a new consumer era and a new marketing approach.

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A multi-dimensional effort, the “Joy Will Take You Further” campaign told the story of the science of happiness for the modern-day consumer living in a time-pressed society.

In an interview, Guy Escolme, the global brand director for Johnnie Walker said that the new campaign would “start from a place of happiness, optimism and joy”. These emotions and ideals, Escolme continued, were “big accelerator[s] of people’s progress and success in their lives”.

With a campaign featuring a host of international celebrities, it was estimated to reach approximately 270 million during its global launch.

2. Specialized campaigns for the Asian market

The Johnnie Walker House was established in Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Chengdu, Mumbai, and Taiwan specifically for influencers to create impressions about their whiskies.

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A Johnnie Walker House tasting session in Singapore.

According to Matteo Fantacchiotti, Global Vice President of Diageo Luxury Division, Johnnie Walker’s parent company, the Johnnie Walker Houses will hold tasting sessions. These events, as Fantacchiotti highlighted, would “have consumers understand what our whiskey is, giving them the right experience, giving them the stories to tell and also to open up to a certain kind of consumers access to some of the more limited edition that are exclusively sold in that House”.

By understanding its target markets and the nature of word-of-mouth marketing, Johnnie Walker successfully enticed 10,000 influencers to its tasting sessions

3. $20 or $,1000 drinks are all backed up by quality, trust and premium branding

“Even a consumer that is drinking Johnnie Walker Red label at a price point which is skewed towards $20-$25 … feel that they are having a sort of luxurious experience because they are still experiencing a brand with hundred years of heritage, with an incredible story that even at that price point has the mastery of our master-blenders at the service of that entry level variant work.” – Matteo Fantacchiotti

Johnnie Walker sells a wide array of drinks, ranging from the affordable red labels to premium special releases. The diverse price points of such products allows the company to capture and appeal to broad audiences.

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Because of its longstanding heritage and reputation for luxury-level alcohol, Johnnie Walker’s assortment of drinks has little effect on its product quality. A cheaper Johnnie Walker scotch, while low in price, still exudes its maker’s prestige and exclusivity.

The strong holding power of the Johnnie Walker brand and reputation instills confidence and ensures loyalty in the consumer.

4. Clever collaboration and advocacy 

Recently, Johnnie Walker paired up with Uber to create the “Join the Pact” program. The scheme was a chance for Johnnie Walker to promote responsible drinking while tapping into Uber’s rising dominance in the transport industry.

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Drink responsibly with the “Join the Pact” program.

Leveraging on Uber’s massive customer base, the “Join the Pact” program rewarded socially-responsible users with an Uber discount code. As a result, Johnnie Walker creates an environment where it ‘promotes’ alcohol consumption while discouraging the abuse of it. In short, the company gets to have its cake and eat it too.

Furthermore, by advocating responsible drinking through Uber, Johnnie Walker is able to reinforce its image as a brand for mature, independent adults. Thus, Johnnie Walker is able to remain relevant and ever-present in its industry and the psyche of the modern drinker.

Recap:

  1. Your marketing and advertising campaigns must adapt to changing perspectives and needs.
  2. Cater your marketing tactics to the markets you’re engaging.
  3. Cultivate trust among your consumers and quality in your products.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, advocacy for social issues can strengthen your brand and attract more fans and customers.

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Read next:  How $50B Company Uber Expanded Into 300 Cities In 6 Years Through Word-of-Mouth

 

Michelle Koh

Michelle is a self-aware, milo-loving millennial.

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