Short List
CategoryA04. Best Use of Brand Sponsorship Integration (where there is no product overtly displayed in the film,
Entrant Company:IRIS WORLDWIDE Singapore, SINGAPORE
Contributing Company:IRIS WORLDWIDE Singapore, SINGAPORE

The Campaign

Johnnie Walker was entering the sponsorship space as a second tier sponsor where it had to compete with hundreds of other team sponsors, resulting in a very cluttered environment. With tight Formula One intellectual property restrictions, Johnnie Walker could not shoot the track. Filming access to the main draw for the fans, two world Formula One champions, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button was limited. It had to comply with government broadcast regulations for alcohol advertising. A 'one-size fit all' content approach was not going to make the cut with all its markets. Sponsoring a racing team meant that Johnnie Walker had to ensure it was enforcing the responsible drinking message. It could never explicitly show consumption shots in its content alongside the racing. Lastly, it had to address the stereotypical thinking associated with whisky advertising that it is only for older men.


Consumers respected Johnnie Walker’s long-standing heritage. However, the brand was struggling to convince consumers that it was stylish and sophisticated, compared to other competitor whisky brands. Enter - Johnnie Walker’s sponsorship with one of most successful Formula One team in the world’s most glamourous and stylish sport. There was a huge opportunity to leverage this sponsorship and drive significant commercial growth for the brand. The technical side of Formula One was fascinating to a select few, however the hook for most consumers was the Formula One lifestyle of the drivers on and off the circuit. The Formula One lifestyle was a sweet spot that was ownable and a natural fit for the brand. Johnnie Walker was aspirational to all, yet accessible to the privileged few. The brand would be the enabler and open up this exclusive world to the audience. Branded content will become the heart of its next campaign. Johnnie Walker created the integrated branded content platform ‘Step Inside The Circuit’. The platform gave consumers unbridled access to the glamourous and stylish sport of Formula One, with two former world champions, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, over the course of the season. Johnnie Walker launched the series with 3-minute long episodes, edited to reflect a documentary style, which felt intimate and insightful. The topical episodes were shot, edited on location within 48 hours and released to coincide with the race weekend. This process continued over the season, with a final delivery of eight episodes over a six-month period. Audiences were brought on journey with the drivers to Monaco, Silverstone, Singapore, Tokyo and India. The content exposed audiences to the stylish and sophisticated world in the cities when Formula One came to town.

The quality of the content drew audiencesas it gave consumers exclusive access to the glamourous and stylish sport of Formula One, with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. The episodes were distributed across owned social channels, website and seeded on relevant blogs, targeting communities with relevant passion points. Viewers were also encouraged to become interviewers and had video replies from the drivers. Partnership with content seeding and media distribution providers ensured the content had a wide reach, encouraging interest levels and organic share rates.

From its humble beginnings of 400 views, the YouTube channel amassed over 1.5 million views. With a small media spend of £50,000, the episodes smashed the industry’s average organic share rate of 10% with an average of 70%. The content attracted broadcasters who ran the episodes as part of their programming for free. Over 170 million viewers in over 150 countries saw the episodes. This delivered an estimated £41million in unpaid media value. The campaign was activated in over 36 markets. In Great Britain, a Tesco partnership saw a sales uplift of over 600%. In Malaysia, the affinity scores for Johnnie Walker doubled in 18 months. The campaign has being commended by Diageo leadership as 'best in class' for an integrated participation platform.


Name Company Position
Hannah Dogger Iris Worldwide Group Account Director
Joyce Yee Iris Worldwide Account Director
Prema Techinamurthi Iris Worldwide Senior Account Manager
Grant Hunter Iris Worldwide Regional Creative Director
Jonathan Cockett Iris Worldwide Creative Group Head
David Brown Iris Worldwide Regional Digital Director
Regina Chan Iris Worldwide Digital Group Head
Melvin Lim Iris Worldwide Digital Creative
Apurva Prasanna Iris Worldwide Community Manager
Fabian Seifried Iris Worldwide Project Manager
Appu Ponnusamy Iris Worldwide Head Of Development
Paul Gage Iris Worldwide Regional Planning Director