The tale of Johnnie Walker is one of fervor and drive. According to reports, it commences in 1819 when John Walker was a mere 14 years old and his father had recently passed away. The trustees utilized the funds to establish an institution that sold wine, spirits, and groceries in Kilmarnock, Scotland, which also housed an Italian warehouse.
Having already developed a taste for various single malts, John Walker noticed their inconsistency and began experimenting with blending. His breakthrough came when he created a blend that consistently delivered high-quality taste, which he then sold under the name “Walker’s Kilmarnock Whiskey.”
His sons carried on the family business and introduced several innovative ideas, such as the iconic square bottle in 1860 that allowed for more bottles to fit in the same space and reduced breakages. They also tilted the label at an angle of 24 degrees upward from left to
right, making the text larger and more visible.
A major milestone in the history of Johnnie Walker came in 1893 when the family purchased the Cardhu distillery. This distillery has since become the heart of most Johnnie Walker whiskeys, and the Cardhu blend imparts the signature smoky flavor that is present in most Johnnie blends.
The key driver behind Johnnie Walker’s impressive success has been its pioneering marketing techniques. One of the brand’s earliest and most significant marketing investments was the creation of the iconic ‘Striding Man.’
The Striding Man was initially designed by a cartoonist Tom Browne at the start of the 20th century. Over the years, the character underwent many different iterations. Initially, he was portrayed as a cheerful figure in print materials and advertisements, often featured in happy scenarios with a smile on his face and a monocle in his eye.
A Sign Of Success
Representing a journey of progress from one milestone to the next, the Striding Man symbolizes the pursuit of excellence. Each bottle in the collection tells a unique story that mirrors the milestones and achievements of the consumer. For instance, those starting a new job may opt for Red Label (~Rs.2000), but as they advance to higher positions, they may prefer Blue Label (Rs.40000) as a symbol of their progress and success.
The brand also employs subtle symbolism by adding extra glass to each bottle, so that despite containing the same 700 ml of liquid, they have a trophy-like appearance. This reinforces the idea that each bottle is a reward or a gift to oneself as a mark of progress along one’s personal or professional journey.
Fighting The Myths With Jane Walker
Johnnie Walker has not only adapted to the changing times but has also anticipated them. Its recent campaigns have shattered common misconceptions and showcased a bold and resolute spirit that has endeared the brand even more to its consumers.
In 2017, Johnnie Walker recognized that whiskey had traditionally been associated with men and, in an effort to promote gender equality, launched the Jane Walker campaign featuring a Striding Woman.
This is one of the most recent series of experiments conducted by the major Scotch brand, as they continue to push the boundaries of tradition by creating experimental batches that are suitable for use in cocktails.
Blenders Batch Story
Leading this initiative is master blender Aimee Gibson, who blends whiskey from casks with various finishes, including rum cask finish, wine cask blend, and espresso roast.
Once again, the brand is challenging the traditional image of Scotch and creating more flavorful liquids that have become a favorite of bartenders. These experimental blends can be enjoyed in the form of cocktails by a younger and more adventurous generation of consumers.
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