- Diageo whisky brand Johnnie Walker is unveiling a female iteration of its Striding Man logo, called Jane Walker, which will appear on special-edition Black Label products, a news release announced. The Jane Walker Edition whisky will be available beginning in March for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.
- Johnnie Walker is donating $1 for every bottle of the Jane Walker Edition sold, up to $250,000, to organizations that champion women’s causes, including a $150,000 donation to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund and its Monumental Women campaign, a nonprofit dedicated to creating a monument honoring U.S. female suffragists in New York City’s Central Park, which has no monuments honoring real women. Johnnie Walker is also donating a portion of the sales to She Should Run, an organization helping women run for office.
- The Jane Walker campaign is part of the brand’s Keep Walking America initiative. Consumers can follow the conversation on social media with hashtag #WalkWithJane. Women have played an important role in the Johnnie Walker brand since 1893. Elizabeth Walker, founder of founder John Walker, was instrumental in creating the brand’s blended whisky. Today, about half of the brand's 12 blenders are women, and the company has female leadership across marketing and C-Level executives.
In general, scotch whisky has an image problem with younger consumers and women, who view it as expensive and old-fashioned, according to BeverageDynamics. Johnnie Walker is clearly trying to modernize its image — and maybe widen its appeal to younger consumers and women along the way — by redesigning a logo that is more than 100 years old.
Pairing the limited-edition Jane Walker products with a fundraising effort for organizations that promote women’s equality lends an element of authenticity to the campaign, which could help Johnnie Walker generate some buzz around its brand and boost its social media engagement. It also highlights the broader commitment of parent company Diageo to inspiring diversity and gender equality. Last week, Diageo announced it was joining “Free the Bid,” which calls on ad agencies and content producers worldwide to include at least one female director in its creative bidding process.
Gender equality, diversity and breaking gender stereotypes are becoming a major focus for marketers. Conversations surrounding gender are at the forefront of today’s culture, and many consumers feel that brands should play a major role in breaking gender norms. In a Choozle survey, 36% of respondents said they liked brands more when their ads went against gender stereotypes.
Gender-positive campaigns can be a compelling marketing tactic, but they are not always a guaranteed win. Even though most consumers think brands should take a stance on important social issues, marketers have to be careful to get it right so that their messaging fits with their brands and isn’t received as tone deaf or insincere. Last year, Dove released new body wash packaging as part of its “Real Beauty” campaign that was aimed at being body positive, but the campaign faced a backlash after many consumers felt the packages drew unflattering comparisons to women’s figures.