Johnnie Walker has always been a staple in the Philippine drinking scene. It was the go-to Scotch to give as a gift or to order a bottle of at a bar or club. It was the one at the forefront of our Scotch consciousness way before the whisky wave hit our shores. It’s an old reliable—consistent and readily available. With all the new whiskies gracing our shelves and palates, the trusty Johnnie Walker needed to reassert itself and have its voice heard over the din of more fashionable and new brands (the novelty of Johnnie wore off quite some time ago; it’s existed for over 150 years). The Keep Walking Philippines campaign aims to do just that.

Ginger Conejero, Brillante Mendoza, Aisa and Raphael Mijeno, Arnold Arre, and Ambeth Ocampo
 Award winning filmmaker Brillante Mendoza
Award winning filmmaker Brillante Mendoza

It was a historic night for the Johnnie Walker brand. The launch of the current campaign was held at Anima Green Sun in Makati. Guests were asked the question, “Are you ambitious?” and were given the choice to answer yes or no; each answer corresponded to a door. Attendees needed to walk through a winding walkway with various inspirational quotes on the walls before entering the party. Quotes like “If a dream scares me, it must be worth pursuing,” and “Why just change the country when I can change the world?” set the tone for the evening.

“The Keep Walking campaign is an iconic and award-winning global campaign,” shares Diageo Philippines Marketing Director Cesar Gangoso. After 200 years, Johnnie Walker’s legacy of ambition is still celebrated worldwide. “Johnnie Walker has become more than a luxury spirit brand, it has become a symbol of moving forward. That is the inspiration behind the line ‘Keep walking’,” says Mr. Gangoso.

Diageo marketing director Cesar Gangoso introduces the Keep Walking Philippines Campaign

The people behind Johnnie Walker want to make a positive impact in culture through this initiative. They have chosen ambition as the focus of the campaign, specifically heroic ambition. They shed light on modern day heroes who despite daunting challenges, difficult circumstances, and a lack of financial resources and societal support have continued to progress towards their heroic ambition. The stories of Xyza Bacani (former domestic worker turned internationally acclaimed photographer and NYU scholar), Aisa and Raphael Mijeno (the sibling tandem of SALt, who created and alternative power supply for local communities using salt water), and Brillante Mendoza (Cannes-winning filmmaker who continues to reinvent Philippine cinema), became the inspiration to stretch the limits of ambition. Acclaimed historian Ambeth Ocampo gave an engaging presentation on heroism. “The real secret of Rizal’s greatness is his humanity. Therefore, if people can be heroes, just by themselves, it makes heroism easier to grasp,” he notes.

Siblings Aisa and Raphael Mijeno, creators of cost-effective and sustainable lamp powered by tap water and table salt

The Striding Man, the iconic logo of a man moving forward, has been redesigned with the red, yellow, and blue of the Philippines flag. This is the first time any change to the recognizable logo has been made. It is meant to symbolize the Filipino’s journey to pursue ambition and achieve greatness individually and as a nation.

Guests were offered the different expressions of Johnnie Walker Hero Brands—red, black, gold—as well as three distinctive craft cocktails created by Ken Bandivas (Philippines representative to the Diageo World Class 2015). He was flanked by other Diageo alums Mark Herrera from Niner Ichi Nana and Orman Bag-ao of Raffles Long Bar. Ken made a cocktail for each expression of Johnnie Walker and was tasked to make the cocktails with low ABV, a mean feat considering he was working with scotch.

Ken Bandivas (Philippines representative to the Diageo World Class 2015)

There was a progression to the cocktails—like a meal, almost. The Johnnie Walker Red Label Whisky Fizz (Red Label, green apple cordial, ginger ale, and apple slice; ABV 10%) was a light starter that was refreshing and sweet. The Johnnie Walker Black Label Noir (Black Label, lemon juice, simple syrup, elderflower liqueur, orange bitters; ABV 15%) was the main course. It was complex and well balanced; it had botanical notes, was sweet, sour, and tart, while allowing the taste of the Black Label to shine through the layers of flavor. The Johnnie Walker Gold Label Golden Crest (Gold Label, banana liqueur, lemon juice, rish Earl Grey syrup, soda, and banana leaf;ABV 10%), inspired by Filipino delicacies (a nod to the impending Christmas season), was rich and decadent.

Another part of the launch that is worth mentioning is the Join the Pact initiative that Johnnie Walker has continued for the past nine years. It encourages people to commit to never to drink and drive. Guests were offered bottled water by the exit to take as they left.

Johnnie Walker also created a three-part mini-series that provides an in-depth look into the lives of Bacani, Mendoza, and the Mejano siblings—inspirational figures who, despite daunting challenges, continue to Keep Walking.

For more information on the Keep Walking Philippines campaign, visit Johnnie Walker’s official Facebook page.

This is a call to action. Spread the word, and inspire a lot of people to journey towards heroic ambition. “Johnnie Walker recognizes the ambition of every Filipino,” says Vanessa Gosiengfiao, General Manager of Diageo Philippines. “The campaign brings us together as a nation and inspires all us to keep walking towards our ambitions, no matter how daring and bold they may be.” Heroism is a mission, but the mission is nothing by itself unless it does some good.


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