Diageo GTME hails success of Johnnie Walker Double Black

Diageo Global Travel and Middle East (GTME), is claiming the launch of Johnnie Walker Double Black as a travel retail exclusive a year ago, is a “game changer”.

By the final quarter of 2010 (latest available data) JWDB has climbed to the number eight travel retail brand by value, overtaking the likes of Absolut Blue Label, Jack Daniel’s and Famous Grouse.

GTME says Johnnie Walker Double Black has already grown to about one third the size of its 102 year-old cousin, without taking sales away.

The ‘dialled up’ version of Johnnie Walker Black label is described as “innovation around a crown jewel”. Jonathan Driver, brand ambassador for Diageo, quipped that Double black is “smoke on steroids”, continuing and emphasising the Johnnie Walker style and heritage of west coast of Scotland scotch with Islay whisky and increased charring of the inside of the oak barrels.

Paul Downing, GTME’s new regional director, Europe, when asked by Drinks International, if Tesco came calling, would they make Double Black available in other markets and channels, did not discount the possibility.

Johnnie Walker Double Black was launched as an exclusive test in global travel retail in January 2010 at six airport locations (New York JFK, Dubai, Beirut, Sydney, Singapore and Bangkok). With shared input from leading retail partners, the launch was supported by high-impact visibility, sampling and hostess presence and delivered such a response that availability of the new blend was extended for sale throughout the global travel retail channel as an exclusive product from July 2010.

Steve White, recently-appointed marketing director for GTME and former marketing and innovation director for Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Global Brand Team, said: “Johnnie Walker Double Black was, from the outset, an extraordinarily bold innovation, taking as its starting point the ‘crown jewel’ in Diageo’s travel retail portfolio – Johnnie Walker Black Label.

“It has been exclusive to the travel retail channel for the last twelve months and though, going forward, we are planning to allow a small number of domestic markets to have the product for limited periods only, travel retail remains the principal channel for Johnnie Walker Double Black.”

Jane Ewing, managing director, Diageo GTME adds: “We think this has been one of the most extraordinary liquor products launched in Travel Retail for many years.”

In the shake up at Diageo (see other story), GTME managing director Jane Ewing will now report to Gilbert Ghostine, president of Diageo Asia-Pacific.