Best of British brands: Johnnie Walker

Leading UK marketers celebrate the most iconic British brands from the past five decades

I can think of few more iconic FMCG brands than Johnnie Walker. I was privileged enough to have a front-row seat, albeit non-participatory, in its renaissance in the late 1990s. This is a textbook example of great marketing, the best-in-class application of what we as marketers know to be true. An exceptional client-agency team of Diageo and Bartle Bogle Hegarty set about reinvigorating the brand. They started with a killer insight that stretched beyond the product and sector into a fundamental human need: personal progress. They tinkered with the Striding Man to create an emblematic logo, and they invested in storytelling creative to produce a narrative that Scotch whisky drinkers wanted to be part of and non-Scotch drinkers were willing to try. Since then, Diageo has continued to evolve the brand while staying true to a successful formula: the strongest people working on it, respecting the fundamental strengths of the franchise while not being afraid to stretch the brand creatively.

Nina Bibby is the chief marketing officer of O2

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