January 20, 2019


For Diageo, the Jane Walker branded scotch is identical to the Johnnie Walker branded scotch, so the new branding wasn’t based on product-related preferences. It was entirely based on a new aspect of the brand promise, but the way it was launched made people question that brand promise. Does Diageo really care about women’s rights, or is the company just trying to gain more exposure with the conveniently timed launch? Based on this consumer confusion and coupled with the company’s own comments about its product and the purpose of Jane Walker, the effort was tarnished with negative perceptions regardless of the company’s actual intentions.

Jacoby later clarified the intention of Jane Walker, saying, “This wasn’t about making a whiskey for women. We would never make anything that’s ‘for women’s palates.’ Taste buds have no gender.” However, the negative perception had already traveled fast and far.

The lesson to learn from Jane Walker is to match your products, marketing and efforts to your brand promise, and if there could be a disconnect, close the gap and massage consumer perceptions before you make any big changes.

Note that this was written 10 months before it was obvious that Johnnie Walker was an anti-Trump brand in bed with a group of rabid anti-Semites.

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