NEW YORK: Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch whisky has launched a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign using art as metaphor to emphasize its luxury image.
The centerpiece of the effort is a series of abstract, digitally enhanced photographs designed by British artists Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton-Jones. While those, via BBH New York, are being used in the brand's advertising and point-of-sale projects, PR "is integrated into every element of the campaign." Laura Peet, director of PR for Johnnie Walker's New York-based importer, Diageo North America.
Like a modern art piece, "everyone gets something different out of it," Peet said "And those who know what to look for really get that much more out of it."
Efforts launched last month with branded after-hours events at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, as well as a Scrubs-themed benefit auction, for the New Orleans Museum of Art's Katrina Fund in Los Angeles. In partnership with the New York Sun, Johnnie Walker is continuing to host "traveling art galleries" and sampling opportunities at more than 100 venues in the New York area, and sponsored various events around the Art Basel international art show in Miami last week. Johnnie Walker's AOR Rogers & Cowan is assisting the effort.
The brand is targeting luxury, art, and men's publications, both to highlight its product as an ideal holiday gift, and to drive traffic to its pop-up engraving kiosk, Peet said. On location at New York's Time Warner Center through January 4, the "luxurious environment" features Johnnie Walker-inspired artwork and unopened-bottle engraving in multiple languages provided free of charge.
The campaign's tagline is "For those who know what to look for."
Though there has been a renewed interest in Scotch among American consumers - exports to the US rose by almost 10% in 2005, to $4.39 billion, according to the Scotch Whisky Association - the spirit still lags behind drinks such as vodka and tequila in popularity. Parent company Diageo owns the Smirnoff, J&B, Baileys, Cuervo, and Tanqueray brands, among others.
And Johnnie Walker Blue Label, a blend which retails for more than $200 a bottle, must compete for consumer consideration against currently popular single-malt Scotches and ultra-premium regional brands.
The campaign is significant for Johnnie Walker, Peet said. It marks the first time the brand "has undertaken such an integrated effort … [and] 30% of our sales occur during the holiday season."