One can always trust the Irish for knowing the true value of whisky. Afterall, they are the people who coined the proverb, “What whisky will not cure there is no cure for”. About 8012 km away from Ireland, you can find yourself in India where best-selling thriller writer Ashwin Sanghi will confirm this with his own testimonial which states that “There is one person who can help solve ‘writer’s block’ – his name is Mr. Johnnie Walker.” Over 12 successful titles under his belt, one can’t help but walk quite comfortably into the realization of this being true.

On a Tuesday evening in February, a month described by poets as being a time where there is everything to hope for and nothing to regret, Johnnie,  a friend to the Irish and Indian, extended his hopeful journey in search of even more and walked 8250 km into not just any bar, but thebar of African excellence. This space was curated, cultivated and elevated by the presence of South Africa’s most iconic and pioneering achievers who have it in their DNA to know that the long walk to any type of freedom, no matter the extent of km’s crossed,  is only achieved when one keeps walking. This space was Johannesburg’s pinnacle suburb of Sandhurst at the Saxon, the country’s world class statement of African possibility, for the launch of the Johnnie Walker campaign, Keep Walking South Africa.

As a country rich in the type of soil that seeds potential into the dreams of a people whose ordinary lives transform into the extraordinary examples of the impact of driving change, Johnnie Walker launches its new brand campaign commemorating achievement and progress as reflected by South Africans who have authentically walked into their destiny and by so doing, projected themselves internationally. Naturally, this campaign is an evolution of the iconic whisky brand’s drive to itself evolve from being the cure into inspiring more by inspiring progress.

The world-famous adjure to ‘Keep Walking’ is particularly meaningful in a South African context. In an era where the consumer’s opinion matters just as much to a brand’s bottom-line success as any key financial indicator, consumers walk away from brands that dictate to them and decidedly walk towards brands and platforms willing to push a new strategy with longevity. A strategy which walks from the dictatorship to a conversation that speaks to identity as opposed to perfection, reality as opposed to perception, partnerships as opposed to the hard-sell, representation as opposed to the tried, tested and tired and authenticity as opposed to forced ideals. It’s only in this environment that a brand pushes in the right direction of cutting through the clutter and by so doing creating interest, memories and sustainable traction with a truly captive audience. The Keep Walking South Africa campaign is itself, this push that moves forward with optimism and celebrates every milestone reflective of real, inspiring stories told captivatingly in a TVC that will easily rack up viewership numbers on digital platforms and prevent a traditional tv viewer from naturally shifting their finger towards the fast-forward button.

“Johnnie Walker as a brand exists to inspire personal progress and this campaign has tested our ability to really connect with our local audience under this mission. In tune with the growing importance of authenticity in storytelling and finding people in different fields who truly embody the brand, we specifically selected South Africans who have had impact both locally and globally in their respective fields. As a brand, we realise that South Africans are ambitious and determined. We want to salute those who have taken their steps today, to be an icon tomorrow. A multitude of people, progressing with purpose” says Zumi Njongwe, Marketing & Innovation Director at Diageo.

This brand push has resulted in it bringing together and celebrating some of those who have contributed to South Africa’s growth through times of transition and uncertainty. As celebrants of film and tv – worlds which naturally manifest dreams into reality –  thebar recognises the intrinsic value in a campaign which celebrates among the many, industry practitioners who are master manifesters of the life story they want to be told in their honour.

Practitioners such as global champion of ambition and perseverance Trevor Noah, who has gone from local stand-up comedy to standing among the film and tv stars that make Hollywood what it is. Also, international cinematographer Motheo Moeng, a photographer at heart whose images in still and screen capture the essence of what it means to live a meaningfully progressive life. Then finally there is internationally award-winning thespian Enhle Mbali whose story unfolds in a magical mosaic of what it really means to simply live and love.

Beyond these film and tv practitioners are those featured in the campaign whose journeys inspire the industry to create  documentaries, series and films that will inspire that same sense of courage in others. For example, Refilwe Ledwaba, a black woman who went from walking a lonely path to being celebrated for it as the first black female pilot and Olympic swimmer Chad le Clos who went from killing early morning laps to lapping up gold medals at the Olympics. The launch itself was graced with the presence of Mbali and Nelson Makamo, an artist who went from creating art based on the world around him to having the world reflect that right back in applause with his iconic TIME magazine cover feature.

Njongwe believes that the brand is succeeding in its quest to dispel the stereotypes that exist around whisky lovers and the ‘old boys club’. Not only have they featured powerful and accomplished women in the campaign, but they also enlisted a female force in the tv and film industry, one of the country’s leading directors, Dani Hynes from Egg Films, to help the brand  enlarge its circle of influence and connect with a broader audience.

Since the launch, the campaign has seen more courageous strides from different walks of life enjoy the experience of being a real whisky consumer by being a Johnnie Walker consumer. Lesedi Mashale, Diageo’s Head of Talent & PR who played the role of host during the launch expressed a similar perspective by indicating that “The launch balanced out the authenticity of the campaign. We’re proud of the 95% positive sentiment we’re seeing online with consumers being excited about the new communication. A brand couldn’t ask for more, especially with something new and innovative as this”.

Njongwe concludes that “Every South African – whether they are in the public eye or not – has a role to play and a story to share. By honouring our heroes, and remembering how far we’ve come, we hope to inspire South Africans to always Keep Walking.

The campaign is an important addition to the South African progress narrative that emulates the notion that the path of success becomes clearer only when one has the courage to get on the path. In the famous words that have a nation united by the powers of beverages, the sentiment of Johnnie Walker lands well with the idea that one should always aim to keep walking and in that to keep it going, keep it flowing, like the water…with a dash of whisky of course.

Stay connected with the campaign by following and visiting the House of Walker on @johnniewalkersa (Instagram), @johnniewalkersa (Twitter) and Johnnie Walker South Africa (Facebook) #KWSA

About Johnnie Walker

Founded in 1820, Johnnie Walker is worlds number 1 Scotch whisky, expertly crafted in Scotland by a small team of 12 master whisky makers, using more than 8 million casks of mature malt and grain whiskies from our 29 distilleries across the four corners of Scotland. Johnnie Walker holds an unparalleled range of award-winning blended whiskies from core variants to the super-deluxe portfolio to suit all tastes and occasions.

Not only is Johnnie Walker the biggest whisky brand in the world, its slogan (Keep Walking) has been adopted and embraced everywhere, as a rallying cry for progress, as encouragement in adversity, as a joyful expression of optimism and as the best piece of advice you’re ever likely to hear.

About Diageo

Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands including Johnnie Walker, J&B, The Singleton, Talisker & Lagavulin whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray, and Guiness. Our ambition is to create the best-performing, most trusted and respected consumer products in the world, while out purpose is to celebrate life, every day, everywhere.

As a global company, our products are sold in more than 180 countries around the world. The company is listed on both the London Stock Exchange (DGE) and the New York Stock Exchange (DEO). For more information about Diageo, our people, our brands and performance, visit us at Visit Diageo’s global responsible drinking resource,, for more information, initiatives, and ways to share best practice