Case Study 1. Keep Walking, Johnnie Walker.
There’s is no more powerful force that can be brought to bear on planet earth than the human imagination.
Now that’s a resource worth tapping into on behalf of any business.
“If you can capture the imagination, you’ve found a resistance-free route to the mind and a powerful ally in winning the heart.”
There is a caveat. Isn’t there always. Don’t kid yourself that the public has simply fallen in love with your brand. That’s not really how it works – despite claims to the contrary. What actually happens is that people have found affinity with something your brand represents and so adopt your product, and brand and what ever it represents as a shorthand for their own. A form of self expression by proxy – and if your values fit they will be taken to heart and that heart will be proudly worn on their sleeve – or under it; to which the following gallery attests.
Q: When is a brand’s for life?
A: When your customers adopt your values as self-expression by proxy.
Of course there’s goodwill involved in this level of rapport – but brands should be wary of thinking they are the focus of the affection. There is of course a certain affection – but the focus is still on what it does for the customers objectives in representing themselves. Unless your brand is One Direction and then the brand is entirely the object of their audiences affection. So unless your brand image is one your customers will literally fall in love with, they are a conduit for customer self-representation and should be happy to be one and leverage that privilege as best they can.
The privilege will last as long as the brand’s values remain in rapport with their own.
If they fall out of rapport the customer will simply move on as soon as another brand turns up with greater affinity.
With Johnnie Walker we eschewed typical stories of oak barrel-aging, ozone infused sea breezes, or the influence of peaty soil, for an angle that allied the name and the role of the brand with an inspiring notion.
The ads raised a metaphorical glass to idividuals and acts truly worthy of celebration. Johnnie Walker was now the brand that appreciated that level of endeavour – and subsequently the obvious choice to toast it. The secondary gain was of course simply being associated with those notable individuals and acts.
The message was clear. If you were to raise a glass to great acts (symbols of masculine progress) then the only whiskey to choose was the dynamic Johnnie Walker.
We set about popularising that assertion with a campaign that supported the phrase, Keep Walking, that I wrote while working at Bartle Bogle Hegarty in an office next to Sir John’s. He was an instant fan as was Diageo who the awarded the agency upwards of 50m pounds of business they liked it so much.
The campaign boosted sales by 12% in the first three months of breaking and went on to be adopted by 121 countries with massive gains in market share – over 60% in some regions – to take Johnnie Walker to the world’s number one spot; a position it maintains ten years on. The full case study is explored in Advertising Works 17.
Keep walking was a notion that has captured the imagination – it found the sweet spot of affinity with values a huge swathe of the whiskey drinking world was keen to claim as representative of their own.
Boom – Robert’s your Mother’s brother.