Agencies vie for Johnnie Walker Western Europe brief

Diageo is hunting for communications 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.

LONDON: Diageo is hunting for communications 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.

The drinks giant is midway through a pitch for an agency lead for strategic PR and social media work for the Red Label variant of Johnnie Walker, which is the entry-level and biggest-selling brand in its line.

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

Sales of the whole Johnnie Walker line in Western Europe dropped 2% last year, according to its most recent financial results.

It upped marketing spend on the “super and ultra-deluxe” variants, which are part of the luxury spirits UK brief it 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 there are plenty of opportunities for the brand in the region.

“The continuing premiumization 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 for whiskies for Diageo Western Europe, said that “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,” she said.

News of the brief comes as global demand for whisky surges, with the Scotch Whisky Association reporting this fall that the value of exports had risen by 11% in the first half of this year to almost £2 billion, or about $3.2 billion.

This story originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK.

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