Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Johnnie Walker’s “Keep Walking” slogan is known the world over for inspiring progress. The slogan, a rallying cry for progress and an encouragement in adversity, has been adopted and embraced throughout the world.

The brand was in decline during the 1990s, having lost market share until a strategy to reverse its slipping sales was introduced by its owner, international drinks group Diageo. This included the “Keep Walking” slogan, accompanied by a striding man icon. Johnnie Walker is now the biggest whisky brand in the world.

The brand’s latest campaign – a collaborative effort between agency McCann 1886 and the local Johnnie Walker team – pays homage to remarkable South Africans.

The new campaign, says Diageo marketing and innovation director Zumi Njongwe, is all about optimism, moving forward and celebrating real SA stories. As testament to the home-grown success stories that align so well with Johnnie Walker’s mission to inspire and drive personal progress, the faces of the campaign are comedian and TV show host Trevor Noah; SA’s first black woman helicopter pilot, Refilwe Ledwaba; actress and businesswoman Enhle Mbali Maphumulo; and Olympic swimmer Chad Le Clos. The aim of the campaign is to show that by celebrating those who have achieved inspirational success, others will be inspired to “keep walking”, says Njongwe.

These South Africans were selected not only because they embody the spirit of the brand, but also because of the local and global success they have achieved.

The big take-out

Johnnie Walker’s new brand campaign celebrates the success of inspirational South Africans who inspire others to “keep walking” towards personal progress.

Njongwe says South Africans are ambitious people who are committed to achieving their goals. “It’s about progressing with purpose, taking steps today to become an icon tomorrow.” Also featured in the campaign are fashion designer Thebe Magugu, artist Nelson Makamo, businessman Ze Nxumalo, cinematographer Motheo Moeng and leading female trombone player Siya Makuzeni.

The brand is working hard to eradicate the stereotypes around the “old boys’ club” element associated with whisky lovers. To this end, Njongwe says the campaign features a number of well-known and successful SA women.

The campaign, says Njongwe, adds the voice of Johnnie Walker to the many South Africans, whether they are in the public eye or not, who have a role to play and a story to share in this time of transition and uncertainty.