By Karla Alindahao
Diageo, the massive spirits company behind the Johnnie Walker portfolio, is doing something radical in the U.S to celebrate Women’s History Month (that would be March, for ye lads who need reminding).
For the first time in its 200–year history, Johnnie Walker’s iconic Striding Man will have a remarkable female companion—one who dresses, walks, and conveys confidence in just the same fashion, if not more so. And her name is Jane. Although I do have to let my bias as a woman known: I’m inclined to think that Jane’s strutting and striding is far superior to Johnnie’s.
But I digress. More on the news at hand: Diageo is debuting a limited-release version of its best-selling Black Label whisky with a Jane Walker logo—The Johnnie Walker Black: Jane Walker Edition, which launches in a few days. And by limited-release, it means that there’s a 250,000–bottle allocation for the States (with future markets in mind). It’s intended to support women in business, culture, and politics—and of course, widen the appeal of the Black Label expression to women. After all, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States has shown that more women and more millennials are investing in educating themselves in the high-end and premium categories—Scotch included.
The SRP (at $35) is also in keeping with the cost of the regular Black Label. And for every bottle sold, $1 will be donated to women’s causes, including Monumental Women (an initiative by the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund, to build more monuments in New York City’s Central Park to commemorate suffrage leaders and the suffragette movement) and She Should Run (an organization devoted to getting more women in office). So the sales from Jane Walker is expected to give a total of $250,000 as part of the #walkwithjane initiative.
“Over the past year and a half, the cultural climate has been challenging and through our work on Keep Walking America, we have been committed to spotlighting important communities that deserve celebration, including the Hispanic and military communities,” says Stephanie Jacoby, vice president of Johnnie Walker North America. “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.”
Just to make things clear: The spirit remains the same. Johnnie Walker Black: The Jane Walker Edition will contain exactly the same expression as the regular black label—no more, no less. The only aspect that changes is the icon in front of the bottle. And in my view, that’s a damn fine start. Not creating a blend exclusively marketed for women is a smart business strategy on Diageo’s part—because that’s equality.