Scottish spirit maker John Walker & Sons is currently sponsoring an epic ocean voyage through the Asia Pacific region aboard an exclusive superyacht chartered to promote their new triple malt whisky, Odyssey.
The branded vessel is visiting ports in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and India over a five-month period, and the journey is also being used to inform well-to-do young drinkers along the way about the historic connection between the region and the company.
The ship is retracing the route of the company’s original trade ships, holding promotional events at each port of call, which includes live entertainment presented by well-known regional musicians, singers and dancers; the brand is also partnering with top-tier companies in each port to present superb food and other special experiences for guests.
Described as “Journey without Boundaries”, the Johnnie Walker voyage is also being featured as an ongoing TV series aired on the History Channel, with an extensive online component that tracks the trip, focusing on unique features and individuals in each destination. James Thompson, chief marketing officer of Diageo Asia Pacific, the label's producer said the promotional stops offer opportunities to connect individually with the numerous millionaires below the age of 45 in the Asia Pacific region. These customers, according to Thompson, seek out quality spirits with “a rich brand heritage” that stands for distinctive values aligned with their social standing and past traditions.
John Walker & Sons are inviting customers, influential figures and brand related business people in the Asia region to the events along the nine-stop voyage. Well known writers have also been invited to tell historic yet updated tales of each port of call, mirroring the “Around the World” guide published by Johnnie Walker in the 1920s as a thank you to each country and its customers.
While acknowledging each nation, highlighting its people’s uniqueness but also their commonality, the original work also served as a superb marketing tool that established the whisky as one of the first worldwide brands. The new journey mimics this with full intent.
A signature of the new whisky is its bottle — an anniversary decanter reminiscent of the one created by Sir Alexander Walker to withstand travel in the high seas without affecting the precious liquid inside and to resist toppling as the ship moves. The larger message is to advance the history of the brand once again, showing how Scotch whisky, through the work of Alexander Walker and later the company's directors, was promoted as “liquid gold” and delivered to a worldwide customer base, just as Asian countries’ products were delivered as new and exciting goods to Europe.
Where the brand's customers conveniently merge with the new triple malt is in their appreciation of all things sophisticated and expensive. Therefore, discussions and events on the voyage will be based around topics such as luxury travel, fine dining, fashion and other lifestyle elements appreciated by affluent customers. Similar pairings of new whiskies and top name products have worked successfully for Johnnie Walker & Sons in the past, but this new adventure acknowledges and combines
media, entertainment, promotional events and attention grabbing news and visuals in an altogether more sophisticated package.
In another major branding coup, the whisky company recently opened the Johnnie Walker House in Beijing, the world’s largest embassy for luxury Scotch Whisky. Since its sister branch opened in Shanghai in 2011, sales of premium Johnnie Walker whisky have grown by some 64% year-on-year, with the company’s Blue Label brand increasing sales by over 45%.