Spirits giant Diageo outlines Emerging Markets advertising strategy at Cannes

Diageo Chief Marketing Officer Andy Fennell gave attendees of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity today a peek into the drinks giant’s ad strategies in various emerging markets, and also shared his personal outlook on working with agencies.(…)

Diageo has undergone a transformation in the past decade or so, he said, with its advertising direction moving away from translating one big creative idea into different languages to employing wholly different approaches that are relevant to each market. That’s a major turnabout considering that only about a decade ago, it was creating the bulk of its advertising out of London and slapping subtitles at the bottom of ads to translate them into different languages. In China, for example, Diageo is going experiential. Just a few weeks ago it opened up “The House of Walker,” a Shanghai-based building that exhibits the history of Scotch in China and allows visitors to purchase rare and collectible bottles of the liquor. It is also partnering with Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang Ke and video blogger Han Han to serve as spokespeople for the brand.

To market Johnny Walker Red Label in South Africa, the company is altering its packaging. To reach consumers who might not otherwise be able to afford to purchase the Scotch, the company recently released a specially sized, smaller 200-milliliter bottle.

Mr. Fennell referred to Johnny Walker as Diageo’s “biggest value creator,” with a penetration in nearly 200 countries worldwide. Other brands in the portfolio at Diageo include Captain Morgan rum, Ciroc vodka, Jose Cuervo tequila and Guinness beer.

Yet another unique approach Diageo is using in one of its emerging markets is a soccer-themed game show it’s created in Kenya for which Guinness is the sponsor. Contestants compete in a series of trivia challenges and physical soccer skills for a chance at a cash prize.