Diageo is investing over £100 millionbehind its Johnnie Walker brand this year, involving a highly innovative global marketingcampaign, in an effort to spur growth in the Scotch whisky market.

Scotch whisky is extremely important toDiageo accounting for roughly 25% of group profits. Diageo, through its United Distillers& Vintners spirits arm controls about 40% of the Scotch whisky market, and owns fourof the top ten selling Scotch whisky brands (see Table One). UDV is, of course, by far theworld's largest spirits group, being at least double the size of its nearest rivals -Allied Domecq, Seagram and Bacardi. See "Mixing Drinks Proves a Headache".Last year, UDV achieved volume sales of 113 million cases (9 litre) and operating profitsof £967 million, with Scotch whisky contributing about 25% of volume and half of profits.

Table One: The World's Top 10 ScotchWhisky Brands

  Brand Owner Total Volume
(9 litre cases)
1 Johnnie Walker Red UDV 7.4m
2 J&B Rare UDV 6.2m
3 Ballantine's Allied Domecq 5.0m
4 Grant's William Grant & Sons 4.0m
5 Chivas Regal Seagram 3.2m
6 Johnnie Walker Black UDV 3.0m
7 Bell's UDV 2.7m
8 Dewar's Bacardi 2.6m
9 The Famous Grouse Highland Distillers 2.2m
10 Cutty Sark Berry Bros & Rudd 1.9m
Source: UDV. 18 Scotch whiskies feature in the world's top 100 premium brands.

Scotch Whisky Market

In recent years, the global market forScotch whisky has been flat with consumption in traditional markets, such as the UK andNorth America, in slow decline while the emerging markets of South America, eastern Europeand Asia-Pacific have been hit by economic turmoil, although the long-term prospects inthese regions remain bright. Any growth in the 75 million cases global Scotch whiskymarket is being driven by the deluxe and single malt sectors (see Table Two), and thismarked shift towards premium brands is expected to continue.

Table Two: Global Scotch Whisky Market byVolume (9 litres cases)

Sector 1987 1997
Total Scotch Whisky 73.4m 75.4m
Standard Scotch Whisky 45.1m 43.6m
Deluxe Scotch Whisky 8.7m 9.9m
Malt Scotch Whisky 2.9m 4.3m
Source: UDV.

Image Problem

Scotch is perceived by younger consumers asan older person's tipple. Younger drinkers tend to prefer white spirits such asvodka, bacardi and tequila, and this poses a serious threat to the future of Scotch andother dark spirits.

Obviously, to continue to develop theconsumer base for Scotch whisky, it is essential for Diageo to recruit younger drinkers inboth mature and emerging markets. The global campaign for Johnnie Walker, covering bothRed and Black Labels, has been designed to redress this image problem by presenting thebrand as contemporary and appropriate to modern consumer demands.

Johnnie Walker is the world's topselling Scotch whisky, selling about 10 million cases (9-litre) annually in over 200countries. Indeed, Johnnie Walker was one of the world's first global consumerbrands, being sold in more than 120 countries by the 1920s. As the dominant player inScotch whisky, the onus is on Diageo (UDV) to take a clear leadership role in restoringlong-term growth and improving the profitability of the market.

The Global Campaign

The global marketing campaign for JohnnieWalker breaks new ground, by jettisoning the hackneyed images of tartan, cut glass androaring fires normally associated with promoting and advertising Scotch whisky in favourof a modernist approach. Designed to appeal to man's fundamental and instinctivedesire to make progress, the campaign's umbrella theme is 'Keep Walking'and is centred on the famous Johnnie Walker 'Striding Man' logo.

The executions revolve around the core ideaof walks that are universally regarded as emotional and inspirational. For example, one ofthe TV adverts dramatically features a walk by Russian fireman Nickolay Malakhov into aburning building to rescue someone trapped inside. Another shows French tightrope walkerRamon Kelvink completing a daring walk between two New York sky scrapers.

The press advertising highlights famousquotes about different types of walks including walks of bravery, determination andfreedom. For instance - "We will either find a way or make one," is a quote fromHannibal which is used. Similarly, Abraham Lincoln's comment: "I am a slowwalker, but I never go backwards," is also adopted.

The TV and press executions are part of anintegrated global campaign, which because of the universal nature of the 'KeepWalking' theme can be used across all the brand's markets, irrespective ofcultural and commercial differences. "We are determined to accelerate the growth ofthe Scotch whisky category and Johnnie Walker, as the world's number one Scotch, hasthe heritage and quality to lead the way," says Jack Keenan, chief executive of UDV."By breaking the mould of traditional Scotch whisky marketing we believe thiscampaign will put significant new energy behind Johnnie Walker."

Managing for Value

The global marketing campaign for JohhnieWalker is in line with Diageo's strategy of 'managing for value,' whichaims to maximise shareholder value by using economic profit criteria to determine businessstrategy. This has involved a major review of the spirits portfolio, disposing of non corebrands and concentrating on developing nine core brands globally, including JohnnieWalker, Gordon's gin and Baileys cream liqueur. The nine core brands will receive thelion's share of the total marketing budget, with Johnnie Walker leading the way.