Diageo to put more creative effort into responsible drinking campaigns

Public health campaigners have long criticised the time and effort alcohol companies put into responsible drinking campaigns compared to the high amount of energy and spend pushed into product advertising.

Johnnie Walker claims it’s looking to redress that balance with the “Never Drink and Drive” campaign, part of its global “Join The Pact” responsible drinking programme which was put into action nearly a decade ago in over 60 cities worldwide.

The brand has launched a global video pushing its responsible drinking message just as new legislation comes into Scotland today reducing the blood alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood.

The 90-second film, which features two-time world drivers’ champion Mika Häkkinen and has already been pushed through TV in other markets, will target consumers in the UK through YouTube, Twitter and Facebook as they plan nights out.

Brand to push more creative effort into campaign

David Gates, global head of premium core brands for Diageo, told Marketing Week that the new digital video was partly an answer to comments from critics such as Alcohol Concern that alcohol companies aren’t putting enough energy into their messaging.

“We needed to put the same creative effort into responsible drinking messages that we do into advertising,” Gates says.

Recent advertising campaigns for Johnnie Walker have included the Blue Label “Gentleman’s Wager” short film featuring Jude Law as well as the artistic “Character” campaign promoting the luxurious appeal of the brand’s whiskies.

Rival companies have also been involved in ongoing responsible drinking efforts through creative campaigns.

Earlier this year, Heineken partnered with DJ Armin Van Buuren to promote its global “Dance More, Drink Slow” initiative, while AB InBev pushed a Budweiser anti-drunk driving ad in September as part of its “Global Be(er) Responsible” day against drunk driving.

Johnnie Walker pledges 250,000 safe rides over festive season

Johnnie Walker has also announced partnerships with transport providers including the Department for Transport’s ‘Think!’ campaign, Uber ride service in London, Manchester and Leeds as well as Edinburgh’s Lovian buses, which will provide a free service during the city’s Hogmanay event on New Year’s Eve.

Working with these companies will help the brand to deliver its pledge to give out 250,000 kilometres of safe rides home globally over the next few weeks, 30,000 of which will be in Great Britain.

Adrienne Gammie, global marketing manager of sponsorship for Johnnie Walker, told Marketing Week that the campaign is an effort to drive real behaviour behind the 1.4 million commitments that have been made to never drink and drive through the Join The Pact program. Now, when people tweet #GetHomeSafely to @JohnnieWalker or visit jointhepact.com to make a pledge, they’ll get a promotional code for a free Uber ride.

Gammie says that 515 million people have seen the brand’s message to date.

“Now, we want to hit five million personal pledges over the next four years,” she says, adding that the brand will do this by expanding to more cities and getting more markets on board.

Gammie was speaking in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens where Formula 1 stars Häkkinen (the brand’s global responsible drinking ambassador), Jenson Button, and Kevin Magnussen came together to perform stunt driving and promote the message.

In September, the brand became the official whisky of the F1, a move that has allowed Johnnie Walker a global platform to promote both the brand and its responsible drinking message.


Formula 1

Johnnie Walker deepens relationship with F1

Lara O'Reilly

Johnnie Walker has deepened its relationship with Formula 1 by becoming the “official whisky” of the sport, as it looks to enhance global awareness of the brand and expand the platform for its responsible drinking initiative, Join the Pact.


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