Johnnie Walker Launches First Major Brand Campaign Down Under In 10 Years Via Leo Burnett

Johnnie Walker Launches First Major Brand Campaign Down Under In 10 Years Via Leo Burnett

Diageo Australia has launched the biggest national brand campaign in a decade for its Scotch whisky brand, Johnnie Walker.

The $15 million campaign will be activated over the next 18 months across multiple channels including TV, out of home, and digital media in the Australian market only. The 45-second TV commercial aired last night.

Named ‘The Next Step’, the campaign is a new take on Johnnie Walker’s iconic ‘Keep Walking’ brand positioning and its spirit of personal progress – the defining ethos of the Johnnie Walker brand for nearly 20 years.

Built on consumer research and insights into what personal progress means to Australians today, ‘The Next Step’ campaign reframes Johnnie Walker’s ‘Keep Walking’ attitude for modern Australia by recognising that it’s taking your next step on the path to personal progress and achievement that’s the most important, rather than the last.

Developed in partnership with Diageo’s creative agency, Leo Burnett Sydney, the TVC was directed by Erik Van Wyk. Filmed entirely in Sydney, the spot features a new track by American indie rock band The Decemberists.

The TVC follows the story of a university student who decides to take a small but important step to focus on his true passion: his art.

It then follows him as his journey unfolds as he keeps walking through a series of successes and setbacks, until he realises personal and professional fulfilment at a dedicated preview of his work.

Adam Ballesty, marketing and innovation director at Diageo Australia, said: “Johnnie Walker campaigns have always celebrated stories of personal achievement. ‘Keep Walking’ has long been its rallying cry encouraging people to confidently walk their own path.”

“What we wanted to unlock with this campaign is what ‘Keep Walking’ means for Australians in 2018.

“Our brand research showed us that the way Australians define ‘progress’ is changing. There’s no one true definition, everyone’s journey of progress and achievement is different and deeply personal.

“With ‘The Next Step’, we’re representing progress in a way that feels more accessible, while staying true to our brand legacy.”

From insight to execution, Ballesty told B&T it took the best part of 12 months to bring the campaign to market.

“Given it had been so long since we launched a significant Johnnie Walker campaign in this market, we took the time to really explore what ‘Keep Walking’ means for Australians in 2018,” he said.

“‘Keep Walking’ resonates so strongly with consumers and that is an amazing foundation to start from, but we knew that to nail this campaign we had to understand how to redefine it so it’s relevant for life in today’s culture.

“We spent a few months talking to consumers and cultural experts to understand how Australians define personal progress, and even more importantly, what gets in their way.

“Landing on that insight was key for us to develop the big idea that was grounded in consumer truth and that reframed ‘Keep Walking’ while staying true to the brand’s legacy.”

Ballesty said that while Johnnie Walker is a leader in the Scotch stakes, and remains market, the category is fragmenting with the rise of smaller boutique single malts.

“Key for Johnnie Walker will be reminding people of its almost 200 year history, which has defined the brands progress ethos and the unique quality credentials that makes any Johnnie Walker variant an exceptional tasting and premium Scotch whisky.”

Vince Lagana, executive creative director at Leo Burnett Sydney, said: “Modern-day progression in Australia has changed. We’re so used to seeing ‘progress’ displayed through the eyes of a celebrity or athlete, but with ‘The Next Step’ we wanted to reposition ‘Keep Walking’ in a way that is more relatable and personal to our audience.

“With that, we have also looked at refreshing the brand with a campaign that delivers a contemporary new look and feel.”


Client: Diageo

Marketing and innovation manager: Adam Ballesty

Marketing manager off scotch and international brands: Jonathan Morgan,

Senior brand manager: Melissa Maidment

Digital and planning manager: Thomas Grace

Creative: Leo Burnett Sydney

Executive creative directors: Vince Lagana and Grant McAloon

Creative directors: Malcolm Caldwell and Ian Broekhuizen

Creatives: Brad Grey, Damon Porter and Chris Crawford

Senior broadcast producer: Rachel Devine

Group business director: James Walker-Smith

Business director: Jessica Rix

Business manager: Trishika Ramrakha

Planning director: Graham Alvarez

Strategy director: Mitchell Incoll

Content director: Natalie Smith

Social executive: James Healey

Out-of-home integrated producer: Justine Dooner

Production: Jungle Entertainment

Director: Erik Van Wyk

Executive producer: Nick Simkins

Senior producer: Sarah Nichols

Audio: Nylon Studios Sydney

Post-production: ARC Edit

Offline: Simon Price

Online: David Edwards

Casting: McGregor Casting

Media: Spark Foundry

General manager: Lauren Small

Investment and partnerships director: Craig Cooper

Connections account director: Fiona Clark

Digital director: James Drewe

Investment and partnerships manager: Steph O’Donnell

Account director: Jessica Brandalise

Account manager: Fiona Hedge


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