Johnny Walker ads aim to improve morale in Lebanon

 
 

Johnny Walker ads aim to improve morale in Lebanon

At the beginning of last month, dabitch alerted us to a campaign created by Leo Burnett for Audi Bank in Lebanon designed to run in the middle of the war and suggested it was the beginning of a trend. Looks like she was right.

Yet another ad, also created by Leo Burnett (H&C Leo Burnett, the agency's Beirut affiliate), was created for similar reasons for Johnny Walker. Using the global campaign idea of "Keep on Walking", this billboard and print ads were run to improve morale.

Diageo's internal marketing code prohibits the company's ads from taking political positions, said Alicia Tetlow, a spokeswoman, adding that the campaign in Lebanon had simply been intended to "capture a popular mood about moving forward."
Farid Chehab, chief creative officer for Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East at Leo Burnett, the agency that created the ad, agreed that its purpose was to improve morale, not to make a political statement. But he added that the ads represented "a new idiom in terms of how far you can go.

The campaign was developed shortly after bombing began and includes the billboard as well as some print spots which began running in July.

All of the ads use the "keep walking" slogan and the brand's striding figure. One shows him alongside the fuel gauge of a car, which registers "empty," a reference to the blockade of Lebanon, which caused fuel shortages and long lines at gasoline stations. Another shows a signpost indicating the directions to destinations like Cyprus and Australia, hinting at the mass flight from homes around Lebanon as the Israeli campaign unfolded. An arrow labeled "Lebanon" points straight to the Johnnie Walker character.

H&C Leo Burnett

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Comments

Ok, to be serious - good advertising has always commented on important events in the punters life. Ads and brands don't exist in a vacuum, to interact with the audience is key. Just look at how beer brands fawn of the footie, and how some budget airlines comment current events. This billboard has only been slightly altered from what they normally run, to match what is going on in Lebanon right now. It rocks.

Ok, it's just a little depressing that so few people comment at times. Makes me look so sad! I don't need any help in that department! hehe. ;)

Eric Pfanner @ International Herald Tribune writes in: On Advertising: An idea with legs

All of the ads use the "keep walking" slogan and the brand's striding figure. One shows him alongside the fuel gauge of a car, which registers "empty," a reference to the blockade of Lebanon, which caused fuel shortages and long lines at gasoline stations. Another shows a signpost indicating the directions to destinations like Cyprus and Australia, hinting at the mass flight from homes around Lebanon as the Israeli campaign unfolded. An arrow labeled "Lebanon" points straight to the Johnnie Walker character.

The most striking execution in the campaign is the image of the bridge on the billboard. Pictures of it have made their way onto Internet blogs, giving the campaign a "viral" dimension that extends its audience far beyond those who have seen it in person.

Leo Burnett and Diageo said it was too early to determine whether the campaign had affected sales of Johnnie Walker. But Chehab said the attention that the campaign had generated on the Internet proved its cost- effectiveness.

After all, multinational marketers can spend millions on advertising that is often ignored. Or they can spend very little - Diageo would not say how much the campaign in Lebanon had cost, but it was probably less than $50,000 - to far greater effect, if the idea has legs.

PS . also check out the comments over at adverb - lots of interesting viewpoints.

Perhaps I'm being uncharitable but I'm wondering how exactly a caricature from the era of the colonial West is going to improve morale when the countries that brought you that product/image stood by while your own country was bombed to smithereens. Perhaps the marketers should think globally before acting locally. And while I'm on my high horse, isn't the idea (is it an idea?) flawed by having Mr Walker walking away from the broken bridge? Semiotics, guys. I wonder what the reaction to this campaign was in Lebanon- aside from the PR puffery that is?

There you go, Dabitch. That's two of us who are sad.

Cheers for the support Bodoni. :)

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