The movie actor, Harvey Keitel, a Moscow fireman and a New York
tightrope walker are fronting the first global marketing campaign for
Johnnie Walker whisky.
They star in a trio of commercials spearheading the initiative by UDV,
which is boosting its spend behind the brand to pounds 100 million.
Bartle Bogle Hegarty has produced the films and press campaign under the
theme ’keep walking’, which draws parallels between walking and personal
progress. The advertising is designed to update Johnnie Walker’s
century-old image of a striding gent with top hat and cane.
In all the commercials, the central characters confront their personal
demons. In one, Keitel faces a pack of lions in a Roman coliseum, while
another shows a tightrope walker performing thousands of feet above the
ground. The third ad features a real Moscow fireman who faces danger
Nigel Bogle, BBH’s joint chief executive, said: ’We discovered that
consumers were very interested in the values of scotch but found the
imagery associated with it largely irrelevant. Most of the
long-established advertising conventions had become empty cliches.’
The campaign will break initially in Johnnie Walker’s key markets of the
US, Japan, Greece, Turkey and Thailand and will extend into 40 markets,
including the UK, early next year. The films have been designed to work
across a diverse range of markets, regardless of cultural or commercial
Jack Keenan, chief executive of UDV, said: ’By breaking the mould of
traditional scotch whisky marketing, we believe this campaign will put
significant new energy behind Johnnie Walker.’
The commercials were written by James Sinclair, art directed by Ed
Morris and directed by Mehdi Norowzian, Laurence Dunmore and Stuart
Douglas of Joy Films, RSA Films and FourHund-red Films respectively.
Media buying is through Starcom.