Johnnie Walker takes The Next Step with first big brand campaign in a decade

$15m brand campaign launched for Johnnie Walker

A still from the new Johnnie Walker TVC
A still from the new Johnnie Walker TVC

Diageo Australia has launched its biggest brand campaign in a decade with Johnnie Walker ‘The Next Step’.

The $15 million campaign will be activated over the next 18 months across multiple channels including TV, out of home, and digital media in the Australian market. Initial feedback and testing has been positive.

‘The Next Step’ is a new take on Johnnie Walker’s 20-year ‘Keep Walking’ brand positioning and its spirit of personal progress.

Diageo marketing and innovations manager Adam Ballesty, said the company carried out extensive consumer research into what personal progress means to Australians, and has reframed progress to be about the journey, rather than the destination.

He said Diageo also took many of the successes it has had rebranding Bundaberg Rum and applied them to this new campaign. Over the past four years, every brand metric was in the red for the rum brand and are now all green thanks to the strength of the program of work.

“Scotch is the number one category for Diageo globally, the number one spirits category in Australia, and Johnnie Walker Black is the biggest contributor to its growth. The backbone of Johnnie Walker has always been about progress,” Ballesty told CMO.

“We spoke to consumers, and we learnt that progress has changed in recent times here in Australia, there has been a shift in what success or progress means to people. It used to be we’d use a shortcut to define progress as the outcome or the finished product, such as a better job or a bigger house, so those more traditional hallmarks of success. What we learnt from talking to consumers was that progress is all about the journey, and those hallmarks have changed. The Next Step is talking about the journey, not the outcomes."

Ballesty said the team had a huge six months coming up and expected the campaign platform will work for the next three to five years.

"We’re very happy we’ve invested in an amazing asset and tested it very well," he continued. "This idea of drinking at home in a more casual get together is huge profit pool for us as a business and a huge opportunity that is untapped by the spirits industry. We are helping Australians to drink better and on trend."

Ballesty went on to talk about future directions for the entire Diageo portfolio, taking into account consumer’s shift to healthier products, and the company’s successes with ready to drink (RTD) products.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is making sure our portfolio is in the right place. Bundaberg Rum is now set, Johnnie Walker is at the beginning of a fantastic next chapter," he said.

"We’d had great success in the RTD space in the last 18 months, with Smirnoff, Pimms, and Tanqueray, our first real premium RTD. Now, we’ve got a really big job to do on Smirnoff. We launched Smirnoff pure, our first RTD with lower sugar, lower alcohol, no preservatives, etc, and it’s been an outstanding success. So now, we need to work out where does that whole wellness or lower alcohol no sugar trend take us? And how does it translate to the job we have to do on Smirnoff moving forward."

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu    

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