Drink

You’re Going to Want to Collect Johnnie Walker’s Vintage Design Pack

The 199-year-old brand chose Manila to launch the new design collection in the region.
IMAGE Diageo / Johnnie Walker
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The average Filipino is expected to consume about 0.5 liters of whisky by the end of 2019, according to online data portal Statista. Many a reader might arrive at the end of that sentence well aware he’s not average, preferring to think of himself as being on the heavier or lighter end of the consumption spectrum. Nonetheless, this individually driven figure props the national whisky segment’s value up to $641 million this year, with revenue growth expectations of 2.5 percent annually for the next four years. 

While those may seem like impressive figures, Statista says we’re nowhere near the top five whisky-consuming countries in the world. India leads the pack with a market volume of $18.38 billion in 2019, followed in descending order by the United States, Thailand (who would’ve thought?), Brazil, and France.

Photo by Diageo / Johnnie Walker.
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It’s a wonder, then, why Johnnie Walker, arguably the world’s number one Scotch whisky brand, chose to launch its new Vintage Design Pack Collection in Southeast Asia here in Manila. The brand, which was founded out of a “small grocer store in Scotland” in 1820, introduced the new design packaging on its Red, Black, Double Black, and Gold Label reserve variants in late July at Makati jazz bar Top of the Alpha. The dimly lit venue was adorned with splutters of 20s, 70s, 90s and contemporary paraphernalia—forgetting not the magician, burlesque dancers, and award winning bartenders.

Rather than celebrating the birth of the company—it will see its 200th year of existence in 2020—the event and playful new packaging pays homage to the original striding man, a fellow often forgotten and covered by our palms as we pour our drinks.

Photo by Diageo / Johnnie Walker.
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Brazil Born but Historically Inspired

“[The designs are] originally out of Brazil,” says Neil Skinner, marketing and innovation director for Diageo for Southeast Asia. “We worked with local artists in Brazil. But what they’re inspired by is the Johnnie Walker Striding Man, who has evolved through the ages.” 

Rather than just whacking all four variants into the same done-up boxes, each is dedicated to a particular era.

The Red Label, for instance is very similar to the original cartoon drawn by Tom Browne back in 1908. The design captures the oil-painting styles of the 1920s with the striding man proudly donning his opulent red coat and golden top hat as he traverses a sidewalk of comparatively drab and misshapen stone tiles.

The next three variants, namely the Black, Double Black, and Gold Reserve, see the striding man “kind of [modernize] through the ages [as] Johnnie Walker has modernized through the ages.”

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Photo by Diageo / Johnnie Walker.

On the Johnnie Walker Black box, you see the gentle, sandy color palette of the 1970s affixed with Johnnie Walker in a font you’d have sworn you’d seen on Soul Train. This stands in stark comparison to the near-all-black, Matrix-reminiscent box containing the Double Black variant, a box crafted to reflect the 1990s—the era of “VHS [and] the beginning of home-computing.”

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Lastly, having stripped the striding man of any facial expression and color, the Gold Label Reserve captures the more minimalist look that many a millennial is familiar with, an underscore separating “JW” and “2019.”

Photo by Diageo / Johnnie Walker.
Photo by Diageo / Johnnie Walker.
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On why Johnnie Walker launched this campaign in multiple countries across the globe and chose the Philippines as the lone country to have it in the region, perhaps the company has grown content with the dent it has likely made in Thailand but has yet to find the same satisfaction while looking at its market penetration figures here. Asked about whether the brand will be doing anything special for its mind-boggling 200th year of existence since John Walker founded it (not a single human will have seen this company from its beginning to its present), Skinner chuckles and in doing so politely refuses to give much away.

“I hope that we’ll have a party,” he says.

Johnnie Walker’s Vintage Design Collection Pack is already out and will be in stores until stocks last, likely around September.

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About The Author
Jaymes Shrimski
Jaymes Shrimski is a twentysomething, Manila-based writer who’s grown up somewhere between Sydney and Cebu. Enthusiastic about all things food and beverage, clothes, books, and small business, he also loves a good long run, beers with his mates, and coffees at any given time of day.
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