The Launch of “The John Walker”
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The Launch of “The John Walker”

IdeaZeit was tasked with creating a unique launch program for Johnnie Walker Blue Label The John Walker in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Mexico

Holmes Report

How do you effectively launch a $3,000 bottle of Scotch during tough economic times? How do you launch it consecutively in four countries, in 12 days? And how do you achieve this given just six weeks’ notice? Logistics, customs regulations and cultural barriers were just some of issues we had to overcome to create a launch program worthy of the brand’s status. IdeaZeit was tasked with creating a unique launch program for Johnnie Walker® Blue Label™ The John Walker™ in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Mexico over a two week period in September, 2010.

‘The John Walker’ is the pinnacle of the Blue Label family, a tribute to John Walker, the founder of the brand we know today. It is hand-crafted in single barrel batches, using irreplaceable casks from distilleries no longer in existence, presented in a unique, individually numbered Baccarat crystal decanter with Baccarat crystal stopper, a 24k gold plated neck collar and hand-crafted lacquer cabinet. Just 1,000 bottles are created each year and less than 50 were allocated to LatAm.

Two years ago IdeaZeit had created the Diageo “Hero Award” winning launch concept for the brand’s previously most expensive variant, King George V ($500 a bottle) with the theme of “a touch of royalty”. While ‘The John Walker’ is a superior product, we were asked not to out-do what we’d created for King George V. Rather, our goal was to set a new tone for discreet luxury. And considering F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote that “the rich are different”, the question we posed ourselves was: As a successful Victorian entrepreneur and “the man who walked around the world”, if John Walker had a home in each of these incredible cities, what would it be like?

Our answer: “The House of John Walker”, a 100% proprietary experience in a private residence in an exclusive location in each city, with rooms designed to create ideal environments for the Blue Label brand experience, hosted by Blue Label Global Brand Ambassador Jonathan Driver and Master Blender Dr. Jim Beveridge. In addition to the concept development and media strategy, the client required us to ensure quality and consistency in markets, where premium materials may be hard to come by, and to design and create everything the markets needed to produce a successful event. Further, we were asked to then manage and produce the entire launch tour. IdeaZeit created:
? A detailed PR toolkit on the launch concept and mission
? All collateral items: custom gold embossed bonded stationery, e-vites, printed invitations and signage
? Press kits in custom ‘burl wood’ boxes containing press materials in English, Spanish and Portuguese
? Custom-blended John Walker Tea in hand-made tea caddies

EVENT OVERVIEW: Working closely with client teams in four markets with daily status calls the launch program was a huge success. Stunning venues were selected, floodlit in blue and dressed with authentic relics from the Johnnie Walker archives to provide the feeling as if John Walker himself had decorated his own home. Each event featured a vertical tasting of the three Blue Label varieties, original Blue Label, King George V and The John Walker, followed by a sumptuous meal for all guests in the confines of bespoke luxury surroundings. For one or two days the House of John Walker became the focus of a flurry of media, key customer and consumer action with a variety of activities taking place from morning ‘til night, each in a different area of the residence. Guests were carefully selected to meet the price-point of the brand, and only highly targeted media was encouraged, rather than mass appeal.

We produced unique press kits prepared on branded CD’s that were placed inside a burl wood branded CD case sourced to mirror the wooden box the bottle is presented in. And, in a fitting tribute to John Walker’s tea blending beginnings as a grocer (he blended tea prior to blending whisky) IdeaZeit created a custom tea blend dating back in a branded, gold embossed tea caddy. Using teas only available back in 1820, we worked with McNulty’s in New York to devise a blend evocative of the Walker flavor profile.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: The UK Ambassador, his Excellency Ambassador Steven Fisher kindly agreed to turn his residence into the House of John Walker for one day. His mansion was decorated with items from the Johnnie Walker archives adding to the history and legacy of John Walker. An elegant dinner in an open terrace created an intimate mood while preserving the nature of the island with beautiful tropical arrangements and lush landscaping. Jonathan Driver led the vertical tasting alongside the Ambassador, culminating in a formal toast to Her Majesty the Queen. Media included First Class Magazine, Periodico El Caribe and Ritmo Social, the latter shooting a 7-page cover story for their October issue.

PUERTO RICO: A media lunch in the welcomed 15 journalists from top-tier publications such as Ocean Drive, CARAS Magazine and Le Connoisseur at the historic venue in Old San Juan. In the evening, the intimate event welcomed 30 select clients, key opinion leaders and local influencers, who attended the luxurious dinner at the Cervantes along with photographers and TV cameras from Puerto Rico Social.

BRAZIL: The exquisite Victorian stone mansion of a former actress served as the exclusive venue, where Jim and Jonathan teamed up to turn the vertical tasting into a two-man show amid the Edwardian splendor of the club. Playboy Brazil, Audi, Brasil Economico, and iG were anxious to interview the duo about The John Walker. Additionally, Jim and Jonathan hosted a private mentoring session for major business owners at the home of Fabio Rossi, the president of Sotheby’s Brazil.

MEXICO: A former presidential residence (President Calles) in the city center served as a magnificent period setting. The walls were covered with portraits of John Walker and his family, the study converted to a replica of John Walker’s personal library, and at night, the façade of this amazing structure was lit up in a vibrant blue, representing Blue Label and all its glory. The meals were prepared by two celebrity chefs in Mexico, Monica Patiño and Mikel Alonso. Major publications lined up for two solid days of interviews, breakfasts and lunches.

? 9 major launch events with vertical tastings (6 dinners + 2 lunches+ 1 in-home mentor event)
? 2 media breakfasts and 2 key influencer/retail partner lunches with vertical tastings
? 24 one-to-one media interviews
? 100 total media entertained
? 45,688,704 media impressions
? 83 pages of articles
? $730,677 equivalent advertising value
? Brand mentions in article title
? 100% of articles were favorable of The John Walker
? 100% of articles contained a key visual
? Product allocated to markets: Sold Out in the first week

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