Best of the Backlash: Johnnie Walker’s ‘Jane’ Campaign

By Neat Pour Staff |

Last week, Johnnie Walker rolled out a new campaign and label aimed at women: Jane Walker. The whisky is exactly the same as Black Label, but instead of a walking man on the bottle, there is a walking woman. As anyone who watched the Lady Doritos debacle could have predicted, this did not go over well. We compiled all of the backlash for you to peruse.

The marketing scheme’s initial intent was actually to celebrate Hilary Clinton’s victory in November 2016. Alas, Clinton lost and Diageo shelved the plan until they thought they could revisit it with some tweaks. Those tweaks involved an admirable pledge to donate $1 or each new bottle sold to women’s charities along with a public announcement of the product.

“While his look has had subtle changes over the years, he has always conveyed the brand’s unique point of view and symbolized moving forward,” Johnnie Walker said in a statement. “As a brand that has stood for progress for nearly 200 years, Johnnie Walker is proud to take this next step forward by introducing Jane Walker as another symbol of the brand’s commitment to progress.”

Then Stephanie Jacoby, vice president of Johnnie Walker tried to explain the idea in depth. She stated, “Scotch as a category is seen as particularly intimidating by women. “It’s a really exciting opportunity to invite women into the brand.” That did not go over well…

In a great piece of satire for the Washington Post, Maura Judkis shreds the campaign. “As I am sure you know, women only consume wine spritzers and vodka-based drinks, like Cosmopolitans. I love a good cosmo with my girls! (I have watched every episode of “Sex and the City” three times. I am a Charlotte.),” Judkis jabs. “How could I possibly know anything about scotch and bourbon and whiskey, drinks that are exclusively for men? I have no idea how they are made or what theyre made of, but I suspect the ingredients include testosterone and beard oil.” Read it all here.

Jezebel was not impressed. In Kelly Faircloth’s writeup, she noted, “Yes, nothing feels as inviting to me, personally, as a logo featuring a lady in jodhpurs and being informed that Scotch is “intimidating” to women.”

Jelisa Castrodale at Vice Muchies also was underwhelmed. She pointed out, “Thus, women, much like vampires, must be invited to join your Scotch party. Unfortunately, the facts say otherwise. According to statistics from Nielsen, the percentage of US whiskey (and whisky) drinkers who are women was 29 percent in 2016, up from 28.2 percent in 2010.”

Even Brian Freedman at Forbes manages to land a few punches. “Problems arise, and potential brand damage can be done, when products start pandering to a specific yet paradoxically overly broad demographic,” he stated. “With “Jane Walker,” the issues seem to be fairly obvious: Not all women are the same, with universally shared motivations and consumer habits.”

And, then there was Twitter. Feast upon the social media backlash below…

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