Brand Storytelling Analysis: Johnnie Walker A Gentleman's Wager

No one likes a “hard sell”.

That’s one of the reasons “A Gentleman’s Wager”, from Johnnie Walker Blue Label, is such an amazing brand video.

When you think of a product video, or brand video, it’s obvious that you need to show the product.

Astonishingly, there is only one clear, unobstructed shot of the product in the entire film. And during that shot, Jude Law is turned away from the camera!

Jude Law in Johnnie Walker

In every other shot the bottle and label are either cropped out, too dark to see, or completely out of focus.

Can you imagine any of the cola, or beer brands doing this?

Every time you see their their product in a video it is prominently placed, well-lit, facing the camera, and never obstructed! It’s as if the product is the highest paid actor on the set in most other commercials, and it can never be upstaged.

Brand Story Analysis Johnnie Walker

So, how can Johnnie Walker get away with this?

1) Knowing your customer.
The marketers at Johnnie Walker have identified their target customer. They know their audience is savvy, and does not need to be told the same thing repeatedly.

At the time of this writing the official short film has over 11 million views. I imagine that a large percentage of the viewers are underage, and/or don’t have the discretionary money to pay $220 for a bottle of Scotch.

The marketers at Johnnie Walker know that of the 11 million viewers, the people they are targeting do not need to see the bottle and label (repeatedly) in order to be motivated to purchase the drink. In fact, anything more than what the filmmakers showed would be a “hard sell”, and that would not be gentlemanly.

2) A new age of marketing
Smart marketers know that today’s buyers make purchase decisions based off of emotional connections to brands. We buy based on what a brand believes, not what a brand produces.

3) The audience wants to work for it
Brad Bird, of Pixar, has shared the Pixar mindset of storytelling: the audience wants to work for the story. Today’s audience does not want to be spoon fed everything they should know, and what they should feel. Instead, he says, the audience wants to make the connections on their own.

This short film starts with the brand logo, and ends with it. The drink and bottle are element in the shots, but not the main focus. The marketers at Johnnie Walker are marketing fun, taste, elegance, panache, and a sense of gentlemanly competition. The producers are allowing the audience to connect those same attributes to their brand without blatantly displaying the product.

Today’s public is bombarded by a tsunami of products and brand messages. So, how do you stand out?

Knowing your target market, and having a keen sense of storytelling, are keys to building brand equity. Do you want to know how your message is standing out in the marketplace? Click below to get a free Marketing Grade Analysis for your brand!