Move over Jane Walker, Black Label

Phil Briggs
February 28, 2018 - 2:55 pm

Johnnie Walker

For may veterans, just the name Johnnie Walker Black conjures up visions of men gathered in ornate cocktail lounges, sitting on over-sized leather chairs, while confidently sipping scotch and taking a long draw on a fine cigar.

But the image, and the name, is about to change- Johnnie Walker is proud to unveil Jane Walker, the first-ever female version of the brand’s iconic Striding Man logo.

The Jane Walker icon will debut on a special-edition offering of their award-winning Black Label blend. Johnnie Walker Black Label, The Jane Walker Edition, will be available to whisky fans nationwide beginning in March to coincide with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day celebrations.

Johnnie Walker

Fascinated by this brand evolution (and looking for a reason to drink some scotch), we reached out to Stephanie Jacoby, VP of Johnnie Walker North America, to get the story behind this brand transformation.

Connecting Vets: How did this get started? 

Stephanie: "To start, women have always played a significant role in the history of Johnnie Walker dating back to 1893, when John Walker & Sons purchased the Cardhu distillery from Elizabeth Cumming. Cardhu is one of the single malts that comprises Johnnie Walker Black Label and is considered the heart of the blend. Additionally, Elizabeth Walker the wife of founder John Walker, worked alongside John and their son Alexander, in the original Walker grocery shop and was fundamental to supporting the creation of their own blended whisky. Today, the brand has a team of 12 expert blenders, five of whom are women."

"Additionally, through our work on Keep Walking America (launched in 2016), we have been committed to spotlighting important communities that deserve celebration, including the Hispanic and military communities. The next iteration of these efforts is the release of Jane Walker, who is a celebration of the many achievements of women. At any time, women should be honored, supported and celebrated and we are proud to release Jane Walker and partner with female-focused organizations who are on the same journey to bring more female icons to the forefront of culture.

Connecting Vets: Is this at all a reaction to the #MeToo movement that we have seen this year?

Stephanie: "The introduction of Jane Walker is not a direct response to these specific initiatives, but as important conversations around gender continue to be at the forefront of culture, we wanted to contribute with a strong message of optimism."

Connecting Vets: $1 from each sale is going to women's charities? Tell us about the organizations you're going to work with.

Stephanie: "Yes, For every bottle produced, $1 is committed to organizations that champion women’s progress, up to $250,000. Johnnie Walker will be supporting Monumental Women, through a donation of $150,000 to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund, helping to honor and publicly celebrate women who paved the way. We also want to support and celebrate the powerful women of the future, so we will be donating $50,000 to She Should Run to support the next generation of public leaders."

Connecting Vets: We've seen other brands; Zima, Lime-A-Rita, the entire wine cooler category (back in the day) seemed to aim towards women's palletes, do you think women will now become scotch drinkers?

Stephanie: "We want to be very clear that this is not a new product made just for women. Taste buds do not have a gender. The whisky in the Jane Walker Edition is our signature Johnnie Walker Black Label blend, the core marque of our Johnnie Walker brand. Black Label represents the pinnacle of our more than 200 years of blending expertise and is an award-winning whisky enjoyed around the world by a diverse community of whisky enthusiasts, including men and women."

Connecting Vets: In the world of snarky online comments, what do you say to people that will take jabs at this campaign, like when it was rumored that Doritos was coming out with "lady chips" as being patronizing to women?

Stephanie: "We are not introducing a product just for women, but rather bringing more female icons to the forefront of culture to celebrate women and the men who support them. We are proud to champion the effort to bring more female icons to the forefront of culture starting with our own brand and the introduction of the first-ever female iteration of the brand’s iconic Striding Man logo. The Jane Walker icon is not just for Women’s History Month but is a permanent addition to our brand iconography and will endure alongside the Striding Man as a symbol of progress and gender parity."

Well, we're looking forward to meeting with Jane (on the rocks) and will bring you more details, after 5 o'clock.