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Johnnie Walker launches $15m campaign to stay top of the whisky market in Australia


By Danielle Long, Acting APAC Editor

March 26, 2018 | 4 min read

Johnnie Walker is looking to reinforce the brand’s number one position in the Scotch whisky market with its biggest marketing campaign in a decade.

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker The Next Step

Diageo Australia is investing $15m in a new proposition, ‘The Next Step’, which builds on the brand’s iconic 'Keep Walking' platform and will run nationally for 18 months.

Adam Ballesty, marketing and innovation director at Diageo Australia, told The Drum the campaign hopes to cement Johnnie Walker’s position as Australia’s number one Scotch in the fragmenting whisky category.

“We’re going to remind people why they love Johnnie Walker, and why no matter what stage they’re at on their journey, Johnnie Walker is right there with them," said Ballasty.

“Johnnie Walker is a behemoth in the Scotch category, and remains the market leader, but the category is fragmenting with the rise of smaller boutique single malts and craft whiskies. These smaller brands are definitely reframing what makes a popular and quality choice of Scotch whisky, particularly among bartenders who seek out the unusual or niche.

“We’re a powerhouse brand but we also want to remind drinkers that Johnnie Walker has an almost 200-year history which has defined the brand’s progress ethos and the unique quality credentials that make any Johnnie Walker variant an exceptional tasting, premium Scotch Whisky. You can’t manufacture that sort of authenticity, heritage and right to play in the Scotch category.”

Whisky is currently the biggest category in glass spirits, and makes up one in every five bottles of spirits purchased in Australia. While Johnnie Walker Black Label is the market leader, the brand is facing increasing competition as craft and boutique players enter the market, particularly from the booming local Tasmanian whisky scene.

“The beauty of the Scotch category and the whisky category in general is the sheer diversity and quality we’re seeing coming through. It all contributes to drinkers embracing Scotch and eager to learn more and that’s a great thing for us. We’re now seeing people come into the Scotch category at a more premium level, in fact, it’s our Johnnie Walker Black Label that’s driving much of our brand and category growth.”

Ballasty said Diageo aims to tap into the trend towards quality and premium drinks with the campaign, by updating the Johnnie Walker brand image and positioning for modern Australian drinkers.

“Premiumisation is fuelling growth, as consumers move towards drinking better quality spirits when they choose to drink. Scotch is primed to spearhead this trend given the rich stories, heritage and premium quality liquids on offer.

“Johnnie Walker campaigns have always celebrated stories of personal achievement. ‘Keep Walking’ has long been its rallying cry encouraging people to confidently walk their own path.

“What we wanted to unlock with this campaign is what ‘Keep Walking’ means for Australians in 2018. Our brand research showed us that the way Australians define ‘progress’ is changing. There’s no one true definition, everyone’s journey of progress and achievement is different and deeply personal. With ‘The Next Step’ we’re representing progress in a way that feels more accessible while staying true to our brand legacy.”

The national campaign incorporates TV, OOH and digital and was created by Leo Burnett Sydney and directed by Erik Van Wyk.

Johnnie Walker: advert-body-1 by Leo Burnett

By Johnnie Walker

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Diageo plc is a British multinational alcoholic beverages company, with its headquarters in London, England. It was the world's largest distiller until being overtaken...

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