How Johnnie Walker Relaunched ‘Keep Walking’ Across Africa

Something and Johnnie Walker won the Branded Content gong at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. Here, we find out more about what went into their successful project…

The brief

Something was challenged to relaunch ‘Keep Walking’ in Africa, recruiting the next generation of whiskey drinkers and inspiring local people to stride boldly and take action.

Following the African Youth Survey 2020, it was clear young people were increasingly looking for content and stories that reflect their cultural identity. This is where Something saw an opportunity to connect. It wanted to shine a spotlight on real people taking action and inspire viewers to follow suit while positioning Johnnie Walker as a meaningful brand.

To do this, it is needed to drive brand performance and give ‘Keep Walking’ local cultural meaning, presence and relevance.

the idea

A disruptive approach was taken from the beginning. Rather than simply telling the world what ‘Keep Walking’ means to the brand, Something asked those moving the world forward to share their stories.

With a wide roster of African voices at the heart of this model, including social media sensation CKay, rapper and songwriter Sampa the Great and photographer James Barnor, the campaign enabled Johnnie Walker to create rich, diverse and inclusive content with local relevance. But instead of a three-minute commercial, Something made a 50-minute documentary.

Created by director Amarachi Nwosu and inspired by the growing trend of ‘Afro-Optimism’, the film shines a light on those reshaping Africa. From a continent that hasn’t always been able to express its true identity, Something uncovered a collection of powerful stories featuring pioneers from the past, alongside those shaping the future.

Including regional ATL, press, digital and OOH campaigns to promote the film, the media strategy was nuanced across the continent, using the best channels in each region to reach premium drinkers. In this case, it was TV. While digital is the fastest-growing channel across the continent, the average penetration is 52%, TV reaches almost 83%.

A content and media partnership with DSTV and Canal+ Network using existing working media spend for Johnnie Walker secured editorial distribution and co-promotion of the film with no incremental investment.

The results

Across seven markets, 29% of premium drinkers say Johnnie Walker is their preferred brand and, crucially, the campaign helped the brand deliver 19% sales growth year-on-year across Africa.

3.7 million+ people across 13 countries viewed the film across TV and digital, with the campaign’s unique reach hitting 40 million. 72% watched all 50 minutes, doubling the view-through rate brand norms.

Over 1,000 pieces of media coverage were the result of amplification of the film through screening events, earned media outreach and influencer engagement, with exceptional online engagement with 15.3m impacts and 10.2m unique reach.

The social impact saw 97% of conversation measuring positive or neutral in sentiment and nearly half of views on owned social channels came from non-followers.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. You can see all the winners here.

And check out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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