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Diageo aims to ‘kill the BS’ in Scotch whisky

Diageo believes it must combat the “erosion” of consumer trust in big institutions, calling Johnnie Walker the world’s “largest craft whisky brand”.

Johnnie Walker is the "largest craft whisky brand in the world", according to Diageo's head of premium core spirits
Johnnie Walker is the “largest craft whisky brand in the world”, according to Diageo’s head of premium core spirits

David Gates, head of premium core spirits at Diageo, outlined the group’s global growth strategy for Scotch whisky during an investors’ conference last week.

Unveiling the five-part plan, Gates said Diageo will endeavor to make its Scotch brands “more open” and “kill any BS”.

“People’s trust in big institutions is being eroded [and ]this is not just a millennial phenomena,” said Gates. “They are putting their trust in human scale endorsement, authenticity and transparency, and brands that share their values and contribute to their communities.

“These are all important implications for what we do and how we communicate; we need to be more personal, more human, more open and kill any BS.”

Diageo’s first priority in its Scotch growth strategy is to recruit new consumers and drive sales with its “global giants”, Johnnie Walker and Buchanans. Gates said that while consumers are “questioning big brands and institutions”, Johnnie Walker is “the largest craft whisky brand in the world”.

“Each bottle of Johnnie Walker is created by an extraordinarily experienced, talented and passionate group of makers from Scotland,” he added. “Our distillers, our coopers, our blenders – the craftsmen and crafts women who ensure the quality of these whiskies day in and day out.

“We don’t just turn on a tap. Johnnie Walker represents precisely the craftsmanship and authenticity that consumers are looking for.”

During the same conference, Diageo revealed a plan to make The Singleton the world’s best-selling single malt Scotch whisky after redesigning the brand’s bottle and launching its three variants internationally.

When revealing its full-year financial results for 2014/15, the group’s then-CFO Deirdre Mahlan said she did not believe consumers were “rejecting big” in the face of the craft spirits boom.

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