Johnnie Walker’s “Keep Walking” Campaign Revitalized the Brand

April 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

Johnnie Walker’s “Keep Walking” campaign created by Bartle, Bogle and Hegerty is one of best and most inspiring brand building initiatives that I have seen in recent years. Johnnie Walker was founded in Scotland in 1820. The brand was originally known as Walker’s Kilmarnock Whiskey. Today, Johnnie Walker is owned by Diageo and is the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch Whiskey in the world. A key feature of every bottle of Johnnie Walker scotch is the Striding Man logo. It was created in 1908 by illustrator Tom Browne to be a likeness of John Walker in traditional attire. In the logo, the man is walking forward which symbolizes forward thinking and the pursuit of excellence.

JW Diageo

In the late 90’s, the Johnnie Walker Brand was in decline after many years of strong growth. The culprit was years of murky management. Late 90’s marketing was tactical, with a short-term, promotional focus on product rather than brand building. Between 1997 and 1999, the company ran 27 different advertising campaigns that over-extended the brand with a mixed message. The brand needed to discover a fundamental truth to make it relevant to modern consumers. They discovered this truth by examining their heritage and came up with an insight that would define the brand in the future.

The insight had to with success. What did success mean? Previous generations had defined it materially. But a new generation was changing the definition. For them, life wasn’t only about the destination. Getting there mattered too, a lot. The brand team realized that no matter his, life-stage or situation, every man has in common a hard-wired desire to move forward, to improve himself in some way. This need to advance and progress became the universal truth that served as the foundation for the Johnnie Walker Brand. They tapped into the universal idea of personal progress. The campaign features inspiring stories of people moving forward. The “Keep Walking” Campaign has been a smashing success and has helped drive a strong increase in sales and brand equity. The spot below titled “The Man Who Walked Around The World” tells the story of the Johnnie Walker Brand in a unique way. Please take six minutes and enjoy the two videos.

How do you define success and moving forward?


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