Agencies vie for Johnnie Walker Western Europe brief

Diageo is hunting for comms help across Western Europe and the UK for its whisky brand Johnnie Walker after appointing The Communications Store and Bacchus PR to a UK luxury spirits brief.

Johnnie Walker: seeking strategic and social help for Western Europe
Johnnie Walker: seeking strategic and social help for Western Europe

The drinks giant is mid-way through a pitch for an agency to lead strategic PR and social media work for the Red Label variant of Johnnie Walker, which is the entry-level and biggest-selling offering in the brand's range.

Until this summer PR support was provided by Edelman on a project basis, but the agency is not pitching for the work.

Sales of the whole Johnnie Walker range in Western Europe dropped two per cent last year while Diageo trimmed its marketing spend on Red Label in the year to 30 June 2013, according to its recent financial results.

It has upped marketing spend on the 'super and ultra deluxe' variants, which are part of the luxury spirits UK brief it has awarded to The Communications Store and Bacchus PR following a review called in June.

The Reserve portfolio consists of Platinum Label blended Scotch whiskies, including Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Gold Label Reserve and classic single malt whiskies; Zacapa rum; Ketel One vodka; Don Julio tequila; Ciroc vodka and Tanqueray No. Ten gin.

One agency figure with expertise in the sector said that there remained plenty of opportunities for the brand in the region.

"The continuing premiumisation of the market both globally and within Europe plays to the strengths of Johnnie Walker, which has consistently outspent everybody above the line but not always lived up to that in terms of PR work," he said.

"With one of the best distribution networks out there through Diageo and great visibility, there are big opportunities in a market that is moving on from a focus on run-of-the-mill blended scotch."

Michelle Beckett, senior PR manager, whiskies, Diageo Western Europe, said: "Diageo can confirm that we are currently holding a pitch for the Johnnie Walker trademark account in Western Europe. The pitch is a closed process and the appointed agency will be the lead strategic PR and social agency for the brand in Western Europe."

News of the brief comes as global demand for whisky surges, with the Scotch Whisky Association reporting this autumn that the value of exports had risen by 11 per cent in the first half of this year to almost £2bn.

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