Here’s how Diageo celebrated 200 years of Johnnie Walker in the heart of its homeland

By Awards Analyst | The Drum Awards

June 15, 2022 | 4 min read

Diageo and BRC Imagination Arts won Best Brand Experience or Event at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022 for their work on Johnnie Walker. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful project...

With eight floors filled with breathtaking bars, event spaces and views across the capital and castle, Johnnie Walker Princes Street already had the perfect ingredients to stand alone as of Scotland’s finest attractions. Add into the mix a laser focus on creating story-rich, transformative guest experiences, however, and you have a destination unlike any other in Scotland.

The brief

To celebrate Johnnie Walker’s 200th anniversary, spirits giant Diageo made an unprecedented £185m investment in whisky tourism across Scotland. The project’s core investments were the flagship Johnnie Walker Princes Street and the Four Corners single malt distilleries crucial to making Johnnie Walker: Cardhu, Clynelish, Glenkinchie and Caol Ila.

Diageo sought to transform its existing distillery visitor centers from production tours into brand homes that offer a sense of welcome, hospitality, joy and connection for a new generation of whisky drinkers.

To do this, it needed to introduce a more contemporary identity for the Johnnie Walker brand. BRC Imagination Arts set to transform the traditional image of Scotch as an exclusive spirit into a flavorful, accessible drink for anyone to enjoy, creating a lasting emotional bond between visitors and the brand while cementing its legacy as the most desired, most enjoyed and most talked about whisky in the world.

The idea

Targeted to international and domestic tourists as well as the local community, the main experience – the 90-minute Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour tour – is brought to life by exceptional guides, using technology and performance arts.

On arrival, guests engage with Diageo’s FlavourPrint technology, which uses artificial intelligence to personalize each guest’s flavor profile. Guests explore the brand story and process in ways that awaken their senses, then taste the whisky in a variety of ways to discover just how enjoyable it can be and how it fits many occasions.

The creative team went to the Diageo archives, whisky historians and makers, as well as members of the community, for brand stories and artifacts. The team also commissioned Scottish artists and craftspeople to create works of art throughout, reinforcing the vitality of the Scottish brand.

For a personalized guest experience, innovations included a series of custom-made dispensing systems that serve guests on the main tour experience the perfect pour, customized to their personal tastes.

And in order to meet substantial operational demands, the building was designed with two identical floors and four identical tasting rooms. This allowed brand ambassadors to keep tours small and intimate while still accommodating the large numbers of guests required throughout.

The results

Despite opening under Covid restrictions, Johnnie Walker Princes Street was a tremendous success. Tour reservations have been consistently filled since opening and spending among visitors is up significantly.

Over 60% of initial visitors were not regular whisky drinkers, including those underrepresented among whisky drinkers (LDA-34s, females). Special events like Hogmanay sold out in 30 minutes at over £165 per person and private sales equated to over £100,000 an hour.

The opening received 2,000+ pieces of media coverage and over 3bn impressions across online, broadcast, newswire and print.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. You can see all the winners here.

And check out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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