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COMMENT Diageo extends the brand, avoids the bland

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Whisky brand Johnnie Walker has moved into the clothing sector with the launch of a new menswear golfing range. The collection takes advantage of Diageo's renowned Johnnie Walker brand image, though care must be taken to retain the integrity of the brand and avoid diluting the name.

One of the world's first global consumer brands, Johnnie Walker whisky, which was sold in more than 120 countries by the 1920s, is to be attached to a new line of menswear. The new clothing range, created by Italian designer Maurizio Bonas, uses similar colours to the Johnnie Walker black label beverage, though owner Diageo is keen to emphasise the lack of brand logos.

Rather than use the collection for merchandising purposes, the new range is aimed at echoing "the essence of the Johnnie Walker brand, complementing a contemporary masculine lifestyle of success with a sense of personal achievement."

As an exclusive, high-end range of clothing, it seems unlikely that the brand extension will become as popular as its whisky counterpart, suggesting a brand-building, rather than revenue-building, objective from Diageo. The new range will certainly raise the profile of the brand, but care must be taken not to dilute its image, as the original qualities of the brand become disseminated among an ever-widening range of clothing, bags and accessories.

Brand extensions from other consumer goods companies have had mixed results. One notable failure was Cosmopolitan magazine's extension into yogurt, a market dominated by strong brands and one which had very little brand fit with the core product. Other Cosmopolitan brand extensions have been more successful, such as lingerie, bags and haircare, which are a much better fit for the brand.

If the Johnnie Walker brand extension strategy remains true to the essence of the whisky brand, then it seems likely that the new range will have a positive impact on brand image. However, if the range of products continues to expand further, then Diageo runs the risk of letting Johnnie Walker lose its premium edge.


Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Diageo

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