Iconic Ads: Johnnie Walker – The Man Who Walked Around the World

A 6 minute, single take film captured the history of Johnnie Walker and how the whisky became famous all over the world

Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) had successfully repositioned Johnnie Walker and partnered with them for some time when a brief landed on their desks in 2009.

It was to be a corporate film, not meant for the public and was supposed to be the brand history and to be used for presentations, conferences etc.

Justin Moore, the creative director had done a lot of work for Johnnie Walker. And this brief was given to him in an almost apologetic manner. He was also told it was low budget. Since he worked on the brand, he read books, did a lot of research on whiskies, visited distilleries etc. and built up a large repository of relevant information.

Gathering his thoughts, he realized that the saga of Johnnie Walker was pretty much similar to the tech industry today but from 200 years back. He decided to write a monologue, something that was exciting capturing all aspects of being an entrepreneur, the struggles, the stories within it while capturing the true spirit.

He decided to drop the unethical and unsavoury aspects, especially those bits of entering markets where it was not permitted etc.

Jamie Rafn was an up-and-coming film director. The production team and Justin had seen some of his short films and were very impressed with his body of work. They wanted someone who could handle this project which was risky as it was a single take!

In the meanwhile, Justin and the team had decided to approach the Scottish actor Robert Carlyle but were not sure he would agree. However, Carlyle agreed to do the film because it was a challenge to his acting skills ( a 6 minute, single-take film is indeed extremely tough).

The script was given to Carlyle and being the professional he was, he learnt the script. But then a small complication happened. Due to legal issues, Justin had to change the script. And Carlyle had to unlearn and relearn the script all over again.

A last-minute change in the script, a changed props on the way and other issues made this a recipe for an unsuccessful project. But fortune favoured them. On the second day, in fading light, the film was shot!

The music by Jamie Masters complemented the film very well and added to its value significantly.

The public did the see the completed film for a long time. When it was put up on the Johnnie Walker website, people saw it and then on, it spread very quickly.

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