Johnnie Walker's logo has always revolved around the legendary Striding Man, who "keeps walking."
It's a powerful image. But its interpretation is subject to change with the culture around it. Just ask Arturo Di Modica, the guerrilla artist who made the Charging Bull that Fearless Girl disrupted. An image whose time has come can be more powerful than historicity, or even intention.
And we've become extremely sensitive to lone-man symbols that have stood too long. The truth is, Johnnie Walker's always been pretty damn dudey.
But the Diageo brand seems to understand this. In 2017, CP+B Brazil gave us the first-ever female protagonist for Johnnie Walker. Just months later, for Women's History Month, Anomaly New York helped bring Jane Walker to life—a Superwoman variant to the original Johnnie's Superman.
Building on what it began, CP+B Brazil gives ol' Johnnie some new friends in a new campaign called "Striding Hu[man]s." The legendary Striding Man is now accompanied—phases of evolution style—by new silhouettes. Women. Minorities. Artists. Punks. The disabled.
These aren't just variants on a lady wearing Johnnie's kit; it's a whole new species of representation, with unique styles and ostensibly their own paths. Perhaps the only thing that joins them is the stride—still long and capable, ever advancing. Sometimes the Strider leads; other times, he is just one in a long line of pathmakers.
"The progress of one is the progress of all," the hero spot ends. (That line is also on many of the out-of-home executions.)
"We know how the meaning of progress has changed a great deal over the last years," says Guilherme Martins, head of the Diageo whisky portfolio in Brazil. "Through 'Striding Hu[man]s,' the brand follows up on its famous 'Keep Walking' campaign by relying on collective progress. For the first time ever, the Striding Man no longer walks by itself, and is now accompanied by people from all walks of life to help promote progress for one and for all."
Produced by Paranoid, the film is airing on Brazilian pay TV and social media. The same week it launched, supporting guerrilla work by Em Branco ran in São Paulo and Recife.
"The campaign proposes a counterpoint to the moment of deep divisions we are going through over the last years in Brazil. We want to show that progress is only possible when we walk together," explains Marcos Medeiros, partner and chief creative officer at CP+B Brazil.
The biggest critique one can perhaps make of the work is where it currently sits in time. We're in the middle of a zealous, socially charged bandwagon effect. Every advertiser we know is trying to demonstrate how its values facilitate diversity—which is currently trending, in the crassest of terms.
The bigger question is whether that matters. Trends pave the way for norms under long, strident marches. And in that transition between fashion and progress comes a social reckoning. Who's being sincere? And how do we know?
Those questions are for us to investigate as a culture. Like the Striding Man, we keep walking until we get to where we're supposed to be.
"Striding Hu[man]s" will run until year's end. In the months that follow, it will be integrated into new brand content and POS efforts.
More images below.