United Distillers & Vinters’ new &£50m Johnnie Walker whisky campaign “Keep on walking” owes a debt to an earlier, less glamorous piece of work, namely a 1993 TV ad for Walkers Crisps.
The Walkers ad may not have had Harvey Keitel striding manfully into a lion’s den – in fact, it featured a chubby schoolboy munching along to the football song “You’ll never walk alone” – but the “walking” theme gets a similar treatment.
The crisp ad succeeded in offending Scottish traditionalists, just as the modern image of Johnnie Walker has.
Walkers competitor Highland Snacks said at the time that the ad was “untrue, irritating and offensive to the Scottish population”.
The campaign was eventually shelved, along with creative agency Young & Rubicam, to be replaced by a BMP DDB commercial featuring a wisecracking Brummie duck.
And then Gary Lineker.
Let’s hope UDV doesn’t ditch Harvey Keitel for a Brummie duck. Or Lineker.