When BBH began working with Johnnie Walker in 1999, it was suffering a sales decline of 9.3%. At a product level, each variant was positioned and marketed separately; at a market level there were 27 campaigns running worldwide, each with a different idea, look and feel. At a consumer level, each market’s relationship with whisky was unique: consumer profiles varied in terms of age, mindset, cultural diversity and economic prosperity. The brand needed something to stand for that could unite it the world over, and something that could help the brand turnaround a long period of decline.
To respond to this challenge, we looked for a universal truth the brand could own that would help change perceptions of whiskey and allow us to be single minded in our approach. We needed to develop a brand idea that could transcend borders, answering global and local business needs. We discovered that the most powerful expression of masculine success in the 21st century was ‘personal progress’. In a category born out of heritage and looking to the past, we found that the only way to take the brand forward was to look to the future, by literally flipping the striding man. From this territory the campaign idea was born – ‘Keep Walking’.
Over the last 15 years Keep Walking has had numerous expressions. The foundation of a universal human truth and a powerful icon have enabled it to transcend geography, whilst allowing sufficient breadth to meet the variety of needs the world has thrown at it.
The “Keep Walking” idea has tremendous global flex and as a result, has run in over 120 markets. Johnnie Walker’s value and volume sales rose over that period to deliver over $2.2 billion in retail sales.