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Diageo pumps £7m into rejuvenating Johnnie Walker in UK

Diageo is pumping £7.2 million into marketing Johnnie Walker in the UK for the first time in 50 years, in a bid to rejuvenate the brand in its home market.

Johnnie-Walker-Red-Label UK
Diageo is giving Johnnie Walker Red Label a major marketing boost in the UK

The brand’s Where Flavour is King campaign, which launched in global markets in September 2012, will arrive in the UK in November to promote Johnnie Walker Red Label.

The strategy for the UK includes the brand’s first TV advert since the 1960s (see the video below), which features Irish actor Francis Maggee (Game of Thrones, Eastenders, Layer Cake) as well as cinema and magazine advertising.

Gavin Pike, Johnnie Walker global brand director, said: “Johnnie Walker Red Label is our original ‘pioneer’, a groundbreaking whisky born from the progressive spirit of our founding family; a whisky that saw Johnnie Walker travel from the four corners of Scotland to the four corners of the world.

“The UK campaign builds on that great story of progress and aims to inspire a new generation of UK consumers to discover Johnnie Walker and Scotch whisky.”

At the heart of the campaign is the promotion of a signature serve for Johnnie Walker Red Label with ginger ale, which is designed to “challenge the perceptions that exist around the category” and promote whisky as a mixable spirit.

“Diageo is investing the money in Johnnie Walker Red Label in order to rejuvenate and premiumise the GB whisky market and in turn increase its appeal to a new generation of whisky drinkers,” a spokesperson for Diageo said.

The whisky market is currently worth £2bn a year in the UK, but according to Diageo, the category is not growing in line with the rest of the world and still has “a long way to go”.

Johnnie Walker currently sells 20 million nine-litre cases a year, 70% of which is made up of Johnnie Walker Red Label.

With 80% of its sales generated in emerging markets, Johnnie Walker saw sales last year grow 32% in Africa, 17% in South East Asia. However sales in Western Europe (Diageo doesn’t break down data for the UK only), fell by 2%.

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