Global attack

Date of publication: September 1, 1989


Johnnie Walker is the world's largest scotch brand and has enjoyed historicially a dominant position in many markets. However, in recent years the brand has come under some strong competition in many of its leading markets. As a consequence of this its rate of growth had slowed in some of these markets and, in a few, had even begun to decline. In 1987 the owners of Johnnie Walker, United Distillers, established the revitalisation of Johnnie Walker as one of their highest priority tasks. A full review of existing information was carried out by the Central Strategic Unit, as a result of which it was concluded that the problem did not lie in either distribution or pricing, and must therefore have its roots in consumer perceptions of the brand. The decision was taken that before any changes were made to the brand, there must be clear confirmation from consumers that they were necessary, and that the direction of chanoe proposed would be beneficial. The consumer was to be consulted about every aspect of brand performance: product, pack, advertising, and brand image. Since the brand already had an international reputation, any new development of its personality based on research conclusions must be acceptable in all major markets, and a single packaging design must be adopted worldwide. It was vital, however, to establish to what extent the form of the advertising communication could and should also be standardised, and if not, which aspects should be emphasised in each of the major markets. The two Johnnie Walker brands, Black Label and Red Label, were examined and reshaped at the same time. However, for reasons of space this paper concentrates on the stages of the revitalisation process for Johnnie Walker Black Label.

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