Johnnie Walker is rolling out a female version of its iconic logo, an attempt to draw more women to the world’s best-selling scotch and acknowledge a broader push toward gender equality.
A limited U.S. edition of the whisky will have a striding woman on the label — rather than the traditional top-hatted man — and carry the name Jane Walker. Brand owner Diageo Plc is hoping the move widens the appeal of the product while celebrating women, said Stephanie Jacoby, vice president of Johnnie Walker.
“Scotch as a category is seen as particularly intimidating by women,” Jacoby said in an interview. “It’s a really exciting opportunity to invite women into the brand.”
Diageo isn’t alone in putting a female face on a traditionally male mascot. KFC, the fried-chicken chain run by Yum! Brands Inc., tapped country singer Reba McEntire in January to appear as Colonel Sanders in its latest marketing campaign.
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The Jane Walker launch is the latest part of the brand’s “Keep Walking America” push, which began in 2016. The campaign is an attempt to speak to a broader audience, with ads spotlighting Latinos and veterans.
Scotch whisky volumes grew 2.1 percent between 2002 and 2017 in the U.S., according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., a trade organization. And Johnnie Walker has outpaced many competitors, growing 18 percent last year — boosted by a revival of cocktail culture.
Diageo, based in London, also is looking to increase female representation internally. Its board will be 50 percent women in April, Jacoby said. The company also is calling on advertising agencies to put forward at least one female director as part of any work pitch.
Jane Walker will appear on 250,000 bottles nationwide in March. For every bottle produced, Diageo is donating a dollar to organizations that promote women, including Monumental Women and She Should Run. While this batch of bottles is a limited run, this isn’t the last of Jane.
“We really see Jane as the first female iteration of our striding-man icon,” she said. “We like to think of our striding man and our striding woman as really walking together going forward.”