Jane Walker Edition by Johnnie Walker: Smart marketing move?


Recently, Johnnie Walker announced a new Jane Walker Edition on its Black Label brand. Is this marketing smart or condescending to women?

Many women enjoy a smooth, flavorful glass of whiskey. Whether enjoy straight, on the rocks or in a cocktail, whiskey isn’t just an old man’s spirit. One of the most popular blended whiskeys is Johnny Walker. Recently, the brand announced a new iteration of its iconic Striding Man logo, the Jane Walker Edition. Was this new branding smart?

Johnnie Walker launches Johnnie Walker Black Label The Jane Walker Edition, donating $1 for every bottle made to organizations championing women’s causes. (PRNewsfoto/Johnnie Walker)

According to Diageo, the company behind Johnny Walker, the new Jane Walker Edition will be able on the Black Label blend bottles. The new image concedes with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day celebrations. Stephanie Jacoby, Vice President of Johnnie Walker, said “we are proud to toast the many achievements of women and everyone on the journey towards progress in gender equality.”

Johnny Walker has many women involved in its long history. Elizabeth Walker, the wife of the brand’s founder, had a hand in the creation of the company’s blended whiskey. Also, “nearly 50 percent of the brand’s 12 expert blenders are women, with female leadership across marketing and C-Level executives.” Still, was the logo change really necessary?

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While the logo adaption is commendable, the change seems more taking advantage of the current political climate than a concession to women. Women look for products that appeal to them because of their flavors, quality and attention to detail. A label isn’t the biggest deciding factor.

If a woman who knew nothing about Scotch whisky was trying to choose a spirit for the first time, the decision shouldn’t be made because there is a woman on the label. That idea seems patronizing. A woman should choose the spirit because it appeals to her preferred flavors.

Granted, Johnny Walker might appeal to more women because there are significant numbers of women in the spirit making process. It has been shown that women taste differently than men. Having 12 expert blenders who are women can help the brand appeal to women’s preferred tastes. A label shouldn’t be the deciding factor; the liquor inside the bottle should be the final deciding factor.

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While the Jane Walker Edition bottles are supporting a good cause, (“donating $1 for every bottle of the Jane Walker Edition made to organizations championing women’s causes”), the marketing seems slightly patronizing. Why didn’t the brand look to educate women on how to choose the right scotch whiskey, the differences between blended whiskeys or the women who impacted the product itself? Knowing that women helped to build the brand or had an active role in making the product would make me more willing to buy this liquor than a woman on the label.

While the Jane Walker Edition of Johnnie Walker is a nice thought, the brand could have done more to advance the conversation. Imagery doesn’t change people’s perceptions, actions do.

Are you more likely to buy a bottle of the Jane Walker Edition because of the new label? Share your thoughts below.