In a world-first airport activation, CircleSquare and Diageo Global Travel have unveiled an immersive luxury brand experience and pop-up store from the world’s number-one travel retail Scotch whisky brand, Johnnie Walker.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label (1 litre, retailing at £180/US$226) is the hero product of the activation, which runs until 19 June.
Diageo Global Travel worked with Dufry’s World Duty Free, out-of-home media agency JCDecaux, and Heathrow Airport as an industry ‘quaternity’ to deliver the experience.
The centrepiece of the activation is a sampling bar where consumers don surround sound headphones to listen to an immersive commentary and view a product video as they taste.
The space also features a gifting station which offers gift wrapping and personalised luggage tags.
The launch is supported by a powerful media campaign, managed by JCDecaux, in which Johnnie Walker Blue Label has taken over high-impact screens across the T5 passenger journey.
Similar Johnnie Walker Blue Label spaces will be activated in Dubai International, Singapore Changi and Incheon International airports in June and July, all supported by media campaigns.
Additionally, two new Johnnie Walker shop-in-shops are set to open in Heathrow T2 and T3 with World Duty Free this summer.
Diageo Global Travel General Manager Europe & Americas Nick Cook said: “The luxury consumer base in the travel retail industry is a key growth driver for the channel so we’re delighted to bring a luxury icon such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label to the table.
“We understand shoppers expect outstanding service, attention to detail and premium gifting solutions and we have worked closely with our partner agencies at Bulletproof and CircleSquare to bring these ambitions to life through the pop-up experience.
“Gifting is a key pillar of our pioneering category strategy and our commitment to creating a stronger travel retail industry. We’re pleased to be able to provide our shoppers with this latest premium gifting service from this much-loved brand.”
Speaking to The Moodie Davitt Report, Cook said that such activations will play a major role in returning Diageo’s travel retail business to pre-pandemic levels. He revealed that the company hopes to reach that point within the next 18 months.
Cook said that the Johnnie Walker Blue Label pop-up experience could be extended beyond the four initial airports. He told us: “With travel coming back strongly, we wanted to swing out big and try and do something really bold with Johnnie Walker in travel retail. I think we have achieved that with what you see here today.”
Diageo Global Scotch Director John Williams, said: “This brand-new concept is part of our wider global strategy for Johnnie Walker Blue Label, opening up an electrifying world of disruptive luxury for consumers to experience for themselves.
“We are striding forward and engaging with a new generation of whisky drinkers and I’m delighted to see the brand’s luxury heritage being brought to life this way. It’s important to us that shoppers can discover the true depths of flavour this iconic brand has to offer.”
Williams described Heathrow to The Moodie Davitt Report as “the perfect combination of great environment and engaged premium traveller”.
He said that activations such as the new Johnnie Walker experience will play a key role in restoring travel retail to the pre-pandemic 12% share it held of the company’s total Scotch whisky business. This ranked the channel as Diageo’s second-biggest market for the category just behind North America.
“The first step is to get it back to those levels,” he said. “But in the next five to ten years I foresee that global travel will become our number-one market for Scotch whisky in the world. It’s very imaginable for it to be 15%-plus of our total business.”
Heathrow Airport Retail & Property Director Fraser Brown said: “I am proud that we are launching another quaternity – a four-way partnership between Heathrow, Diageo, Dufry and JCDecaux UK – to bring this new immersive experience to the airport, so our shoppers can explore the luxury world of an iconic brand such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
“We’re committed to offering our shoppers these unique luxury experiences whilst also educating them on responsible drinking, like Diageo’s Lounge 0.0% at Heathrow and the One Too Many campaign, to maintain a safe and enjoyable drinking environment at the airport for our passengers.”
Brown said he wants to see more global British brands follow in Johnnie Walker’s footsteps. “British brands should be making Heathrow their home when they launch things, and I’m really proud that Johnnie Walker Blue Label have chosen to do that here.
“I want to see more brands, particularly British ones, put their best foot forward in the spaces we provide. We see Heathrow as a palette for brands to tell a story and reach our very important passenger demographics.”
World Duty Free CEO Fred Creighton said: “Across our business we constantly strive to deliver innovative and engaging experiences in our stores for customers. This exciting and immersive activation does just that. We are delighted to work in close partnership with Heathrow, Diageo and JCDecaux UK to create this striking new pop-up space for a truly iconic brand.”
Read the full story on The Moodie Davitt Report here.