We’ve recently launched a new Creative Invite for Johnnie Walker, in celebration of the brand’s 200 year Anniversary in 2020. To give you some extra insights and tips on the brief, we’ve interviewed the Global Marketing and Innovation Director for Johnnie Walker at DIAGEO, Duncan Elliott! Take a look at his answers below before you start working on the brief!
TH: Why did you want to engage the Talenthouse community to create artwork for Johnnie Walker’s 200 year Anniversary campaign?
JW: As a brand, we have always been open and approachable. When it came to thinking about this project, we wanted to open our doors and connect with artists from diverse cultural backgrounds and with different styles to explore what’s possible. This is an opportunity to give rising talent the chance to walk with us and have their work championed by the world’s biggest Scotch whisky brand.
TH: Can you tell us a bit more about the Striding Man and his history with the Johnnie Walker brand?
JW: The Striding Man was first commissioned over 100 years ago, way back in 1908. It was designed by a leading young illustrator by the name of Tom Browne, whose cartoons frequently appeared in Punch and Tatler and other highly regarded magazines of the period. Tom Browne first sketched the idea for the logo on the back of a menu during lunch. Alexander Walker and George Walker (grandsons of the original John Walker) were in charge of the company at that time and they immediately adopted it. Just like that, John Walker the Victorian grocer became Johnnie Walker, the Edwardian dandy. The character differentiated the brand from most Scotch whiskies at that time as many of them featured very stereotypical Scottish figures. The Striding Man first appeared in advertising in 1908 and he has been with us ever since. He embodies the ethos of Johnnie Walker – always on the front foot, curious to explore, and open-minded about the road ahead. The Striding Man is stylish, confident, optimistic and approachable and we believe him to be a true reflection of our brand.
TH: Why did you decide to include the vintage adverts and their styles in this brief to the Talenthouse community?
JW: Over the years, there have been many different interpretations of the Striding Man. He has been continually reimagined and refreshed and an array of artists from different generations and diverse backgrounds have created their own versions. The Striding Man has been with us on our journey from the four corners of Scotland to the four corners of the world, and he has shown up in bars, stores and advertising campaigns in markets all around the globe. The ads were included in the brief to show our Striding Man as he explores the world as well as to provide inspiration; to highlight what has been done previously; and to spark some ideas about where today’s artists can take him.
TH: What are the key features that Johnnie Walker are looking for in submissions?
JW: The 200th anniversary is something we are all very excited about at Johnnie Walker. We’re really looking for designs that capture this excitement and create something that consumers will want to talk about, show to their friends, share on social media. We are looking for creative interpretations that show the intelligence, approachability and curiosity that the Striding Man has always had. We want to see works that are effortlessly stylish – or should we say that look effortlessly stylish, because we appreciate it is not an easy thing to achieve! The Striding Man by definition is about walking forward and progress so work that captures that spirit with a glint in the eye, a spring in the step, and fire in the belly will really stand out from the crowd.
TH: In what ways do you imagine artists including a modern twist into their designs?
JW: It’s really up to the individual artist. We want them to explore the styles and journeys from our history, while identifying the things that really resonate right now. They have the freedom to play and experiment and to draw on their local culture and interests as well as whatever is trending in their part of the world. How the artists interpret the brief and what the results are will be dependent on their own personality, creativity and skill. Having said that, we are looking for a real vibrancy and warmth that people will love today – we can’t wait to see what they come up with.
TH: To you, what would make a design eye-catching and appeal to the brand’s young, creative audience?
JW: The Striding Man really needs to stand out and be easily recognized. We hope that artists will bring a contemporary sensibility to each of the designs, while exploring elements from the historic advertising that resonate now. At the end, it would be a combination of factors such as; did it spark my interest immediately? Is it telling an intriguing story? Is it obvious or are there elements within the design to be discovered? Ultimately, is it something I would be excited to show my friends? If a design does all these things, then we’ll have a Limited Edition pack that should appeal to our audience!
Here are some examples of Limited Edition Johnnie Walker product designs which Duncan feels are eye-catching and appeal to a creative audience:
TH: What should creators avoid / what would feel off-brand for Johnnie Walker?
JW: We’re not looking for designs that feel gimmicky or cheap. It should feel premium and aspirational, to make it something consumers feel they ‘must have’. It should feel positive and progressive, not stuck in the past. Like The Striding Man, the artwork should be confident, pioneering, stylish, optimistic, charismatic and full of personality.
Be sure to check out Johnnie Walker Creative Invite for more details. You have until January 9th 2019 to submit!