The APG Creative Strategy Awards Shortlist 2009: Johnnie Walker

Planned by: Jacob Wright
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Brand: Johnnie Walker
Campaign: The pact between men


This is the global/local must-read of the awards. How do you take a brand idea that has proven successful across the world and tailor it for the world's most populous nation? It's the question taxing every global marketing team at the minute.

And Johnnie Walker's story in China gives some good steers. Johnnie Walker's brand idea is personal progress - as evidenced by the "striding man" on every bottle. China, by contrast, is very much a culture based on collective values. Similarly, the associations surrounding a Johnnie Walker drinking occasion are bound up in the whisky imagery of the solus, contemplative thinker. In China, drinking scotch means groups necking shots in hostess bars. So the list of brand/market disconnects continues.

Planning helped understand these issues using a model that breaks cultural differences into four categories: the ephemeral, the behavioural, the cultural and the material. In so doing, it helped Bartle Bogle Hegarty develop a campaign that succeeded in making the brand more relevant to the Chinese without compromising its inherent meaning.