Johnnie Walker House in China

JW House Chengdu 650px

(Above: Johnnie Walker Chengdu was designed to communicate premium status. Source: DBA)

Johnnie Walker is the world’s number one Scotch Whisky brand, its quality blends are enjoyed in almost 200 countries around the world.

Its range of award winning whiskies includes Red Label, Black Label, Gold Label Reserve and Blue Label, and account for 19m cases annually.

The brand is recognised internationally as an icon of personal progress, as an international, high status and sophisticated brand.

Johnnie Walker has a long and distinguished history in China, landing there since 1910. However, it has always been traditionally perceived as a mass brand. Johnnie Walker wanted to make its whisky brand synonymous with luxury, even though whisky is sold through regular liquor stores in China.

With the whisky category in China in decline and Johnnie Walker seen as a mass brand, LOVE were invited to design a luxury brand experience space for Johnnie Walker in Shanghai that would be a befitting statement of intent by the world’s biggest whisky brand.

What were the objectives of this piece of design?

– Create a luxury route for whisky in Shanghai

– Increase and enhance brand awareness of Johnnie Walker whisky from

Total Awareness across China of 55 points and Total Awareness in Shanghai

of 74 points (Source: Diageo Brand Tracking Data)

– Increase brand loyalty by making customers feel exclusive and immersed in

an exceptional space they’ll want to visit again and again

– Create and sustain a wider media interest

– Create a clear understanding and advocacy of whisky as a distinctive drink with provenance and quality stories.

The response by the designers of LOVE was the design of the Johnnie Walker House, an embassy for whisky culture and the first of its kind outside Scotland.  

The vision was to firmly establish Scotch whisky as part of a sophisticated and luxurious lifestyle and to start a new chapter of whisky culture in China.

JW House Shanghai 650px

(Above: Johnnie Walker Shanghai aimed to captivate Chinese consumers. Source: DBA)

Aimed at an invite only, ultra-VIP audience hungry for knowledge and rich brand storytelling, the space delivers a series of layered narratives, art installations and immersive experiences designed to enthral, captivate and convert guests from being simply whisky curious to being whisky evangelists.

The space had to be an experience that would not just make the target Chinese audience whisky curious, but whisky evangelists, with Johnnie Walker becoming top of mind in the category.

This was an audience hungry for knowledge, in a market where rich brand storytelling has become an extremely effective way to create brand awareness and brand loyalty.

Whatever the experience was it had to be instantly memorable and impactful and introduce the Johnnie Walker brand to the customers as one of the best and most luxurious in China.

If it worked, the ultimate goal was to roll the house idea out to other markets.

How do we know it has been a success?

Following the campaign, there are 10 Johnnie Walker Houses worldwide, including Beijing, Seoul and Mumbai.

This growing network of Johnnie Walker Houses is arguably becoming the world’s largest embassies for luxury Scotch Whisky

Brand awareness in Shanghai improved with Johnnie Walker total awareness increasing from 74 in Q1 2013 to 97 in Q1 2015.

There has been a year on year increase in footfall of 20 per cent since this unique experience first opened its doors.

This case won a Gold in the 2016 Design Effectiveness Awards from the Design Business Association. More details here.