Whisky Galore

Company: Diageo
Sector: Beverages
Impact: Brand knowledge & marketing
Sponsor: Johnnie Walker Brand Manager
Timescale: 4 weeks from concept to launch

Project brief

To launch Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V as a premium brand in the Spanish market. To illustrate and underpin the provenance, heritage and “luxury” status of the new brand, the archive team need to participate in a series of high profile media briefings and launch events, using original archives and artefacts to tell the story of the new brand.

We cannot exist as a business in Luxury without the credibility that the considered use of our Archive assets give to Johnnie Walker.
Jonathan Driver, Brand Ambassador, 2008
The impact of having the Archive materials in market to support the launch was huge. We would not have secured anything like the interest that we received from attendees ... without you being there.
Sarah Castillo, Johnnie Walker Blue Label Brand Manager, Diageo Spain 2008

Business archives used by the team

  • Signed inventory of Todriggs Farm (birthplace of John Walker), 1819
  • Stock book of Kilmarnock grocery store where John Walker started blending and selling whiskies with references to whiskies being sold, 1857
  • Earliest John Walker & Sons minute book showing purchase of Cardow distillery (home of the brand today), 1893
  • Book about John Walker & Sons by Alfred Barnard (famous for his tour of distilleries in the 1890s) showing Cardow distillery when it was purchased, 1893
  • Tom Browne’s drawing of the Striding Man figure, marking the creation of the iconic Johnnie Walker logo, 1908
  • Early adverts featuring the Striding Man figure, 1908-1910
  • Around the World - company publication sent to sales agents world-wide celebrating the global success of Johnnie Walker brand by 1920
  • Alexander Walker’s blending notes, 1913-1918, showing formulations for some of today’s brands and the source of inspiration for King George V brand

Outcomes and business benefit

  • Using Johnnie Walker’s history as the hook to interest journalists was very successful. Media coverage was exceptional.
  • By seeing the evidence, journalists got the story that Johnnie Walker was a real person, and understood the implications of that story on the business today.
  • Using the archives judiciously we deliver the marketing strategy to move Johnnie Walker from a blend to a luxury brand with real values, credentials and authenticity.
  • The launch event raised awareness within Diageo about the Johnnie Walker brand; its premium cues and credentials.