Johnnie Walker Takes Online Strides With AKQA

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Liquor giant Diageo named AKQA, London, to handle interactive advertising for the company's Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky brand.

The assignment is part of Amsterdam-based Diageo's effort to boost global awareness for the world's leading whisky brand. AKQA will handle online advertising, emerging media services, mobile marketing and design of www.johnniewalker.com.

"We've been given this assignment, and we hope to develop a longstanding relationship with Diageo," said Tom Bedecarre, CEO of AKQA, San Francisco.

AKQA will work with Diageo's offline agency, BBH, London. The "Keep Walking" theme will resonate throughout the interactive marketing push.

"Their brief has been that Johnnie Walker inspired personal progress, so 'Keep Walking' is a metaphor for that," Mr. Bedecarre said.

Diageo's intent with this appointment -- replacing Dare Digital, London -- is to target men ages 25-34 who are Web-savvy whisky drinkers. The Internet matters to this audience.

"It's important to their customers," Mr. Bedecarre said. "If you take a look at whisky drinkers, they're well educated and they're online."

The online marketing also will focus on sponsored events like the Johnnie Walker Classic events, Johnnie Walker Championships and the brand's sponsorship of the Team McLaren Mercedes Formula One racing team.

A new site for Johnnie Walker launches in the winter.

The Johnnie Walker brand includes Red Label, Black Label, Green Label, Gold Label and Blue Label.

A key task for AKQA is to ensure the online audience is aware of the difference among these Scotch whiskies, not just in North America but also Europe and Asia. Localized campaigns will help.

"Whisky consumption has different growth rates in different parts of the world, and they have five different brands in their portfolio," Mr. Bedecarre said. "So part of the challenge will be helping people understand the broad product range and the different occasions to enjoy a Johnnie Walker Gold Label versus a Johnnie Walker Black Label."

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