Johnnie Walker and the new generation of Whisky drinkers

let’s begin

Whisky has a long and colourful history. Having been around since before the 1700s, it has witnessed a lot of world events, from the industrial revolution to prohibition and now to an economic decline and the rise of climate change.

But through all that whisky remains as a booming market with a global reach. So what stops it from sinking into the past and becoming nothing more than a relic of an age gone by?

Well apart from its ever enticing taste, and as with most things in the world today, advertising plays a huge role in keeping products fresh and appealing to new generations.

Advertising encompasses a lot of different things, especially in today’s technology ridden society.  And different brands use advertising in different ways or to speak to different audiences.

By looking at how brands use advertising we can see how generations have changed and the need to speak to each generation as a separate entity.

This can be seen in Johnnie Walker’s most recent ad campaign, entitled “joy will take you further“. 

This is a continuation of their focus on progress.

Their last major ad campaign, launched in 1999 was simply called “keep walking” and highlighted the advancement of humanity through several decades.

Picking out specific events such as the first flight or the civil rights movement, this campaign spoke to a generation looking for progress.

It inspired those watching to take another step or “stride”, as represented by the brand’s logo, the striding man, into progress and “keep walking” forward.

CEO of Diageo, Ivan Menzes claims this launched a “golden age of scotch”, with case sales going up around 90%.

Unfortunately however, Johnnie walker has seen a decline in sales in emerging markets, especially in places like Taiwan and Brazil. This has prompted the brand to release a new campaign to build on the positive, progressive attitude of “keep walking”.

image credit Diageo

“Joy will take you further” is aimed at Generation Y, or those within the age bracket of 25-35. It is meant to transcend culture and borders and relay the message that progress is only possible if you have joy in your life. 

That joy of course comes in the shape of a johnnie walker bottle, with the range appearing as the focal point at the end of the ad.

This advert is focused on inspiring a generation who want to better themselves and focus on their own self worth.

They are the generation that takes cues from entrepreneurs and looks to those who have bettered themselves for inspiration.

While it would be easy for johnnie walker to fall on old clichés and use their own story to inspire this generation, “joy will take you further” shows audiences what they can do to make their own progress.

The focus is on joy and happiness and how that can give you a drive to do better. If you know you have the ability to do something then positive reinforcement will only help you in your journey.

Johnnie walker itself then becomes intrinsically associated with joy and progress through happiness. It becomes a source of betterment and self fulfilment.

The brand have been very smart in their ad campaigns so far and only time will tell if they themselves have succeeded in progressing their sales in emerging markets.  If not, at least we will have a whole generation of people turning to alcohol to increase their joy rather than to drown their sorrows!

Tags: Johnnie WalkerJoy wil ltake you furthernew generationWhiskyWhisky Drinkers


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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