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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Johnnie Walker “Watch Women’s Sports” Campaign

Finalist in Sports


Johnnie Walker, a global icon with over 200 years of heritage, has always stood for progress, inspiring people with its iconic ‘Striding Man’ logo and “Keep Walking” mantra.

To reinforce the brand’s commitment to collective progress, Johnnie Walker launched First Strides - an ongoing initiative to celebrate and enable the people, communities and organizations taking bold steps to move culture forward. While strides have been made in women’s sports with advancements in equal pay and growing fanbases, gender disparities continue to persist and equity has yet to be achieved.

Drawing from the key insight that women receive less than 10% of total sports news coverage*, Johnnie Walker looked to the cultural moment of the 2023 Women’s World Cup to achieve 3 goals:

  1. Recruit new and diverse Johnnie Walker drinkers by reinforcing the brand’s longstanding commitment to inspire collective progress and support women’s equality;
  2. Drive awareness around the visibility gap for women athletes as a barrier to broadening fandom;
  3. Increase women’s sports viewership by engaging new and existing fans at scale.

Johnnie Walker’s advocacy for sports equity began as a founding partner of Angel City Football Club (ACFC), the first majority women-founded, owned and operated pro-soccer team and it has since expanded support through a partnership with NJ/NY Gotham FC, celebrated as the most diverse team in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).


Strategy and Execution

As the Women’s World Cup was taking the global stage, Johnnie Walker introduced the “Watch Women’s Sports” campaign, redirecting excitement around the tournament to fuel fandom for women’s sports on the local level.

Anticipated record-breaking reach and attendance showed progress was being made, but more work was to be done to ensure the teams and athletes on the local level received equal visibility and recognition. The lack of attention and support for women athletes during the regular season has made it more difficult for them to receive funding and resources, preventing them from opportunities that are available to their male counterparts. 

Johnnie Walker collaborated with Emmy-winning actress Hannah Waddingham, to announce the brand’s ambition and amplify the rally to Watch Women’s Sports by signing up for ‘Match Day Memos’ - video text messages to remind fans to tune in throughout the summer.

The brand enlisted Hello Sunshine, a media company that believes in the power of story to broaden perspectives and change the world for women, to script and produce each memo, featuring insights curated by nonprofit partner, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), highlighting how watching women’s sports can help overcome barriers preventing equity in sports.

Sharing the vision to bring women’s sports to the masses and tapping into a community of dedicated women’s sports fans, Johnnie Walker partnered with Just Women’s Sports, a women owned, digital-first media platform committed to unleashing the energy and hype that defines women's sports, to direct consumers to sign-up for the memos and view the tournament’s schedule on a custom web page. 

On July 2, Johnnie Walker seeded the call to Watch Women’s Sports at the brand’s Women's Empowerment Game between Gotham FC and ACFC at Red Bull Arena. During warm-ups, the players wore tops commissioned by the brand and designed by celebrated illustrator, Monica Ahanonu, to represent a one-team approach towards achieving gender equality. Hannah and Monica attended to show their support and participate in game day rituals, including presenting the pre-game banner with the message “Watch Women’s Sports” on the field alongside the players. Monica’s designs were also available for fans to purchase on the teams’ merch shops with proceeds going to WSF.

Johnnie Walker encouraged more people to watch women’s sports throughout the summer by hosting Fan Fest celebrations at ACFC and Gotham FC home matches, partnered on a series of watch parties with the teams and SB Nation, and developed local guides with Eater to direct fans to restaurants and bars that were showing the summer’s matches.

As Gotham FC advanced to the NWSL Championship, Johnnie Walker tapped brand partner Erin Andrews to rally people to tune in or gather at their local bar showing the game via Instagram, continuing the momentum of women’s soccer post-Women’s World Cup.

Concluding the NWSL season, Johnnie Walker celebrated Gotham FC’s historic championship win by presenting personalized Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottles to the team and hosted the staff and players along with captain Ali Krieger during a celebratory night out in NYC.


The “Watch Women’s Sports” campaign, making top headlines in Ad Age, Adweek, USA Today, reached an estimated 28K+ fans and generated 760M+ earned media, 19.5M+ talent social and 72M+ paid media impressions. 

More than 1,600+ fans signed up for Hannah’s ‘Match Day Memos’ and the Just Women’s Sports x Johnnie Walker landing page received over 2M+ impressions within a few weeks following the announcement. Hannah’s authenticity and notoriety for her role in Ted Lasso allowed television and sports fans to quickly connect with the call to ‘Watch Women’s Sports’ and sign up for the memos. Her social post on the announcement garnered a reach rate of 1,230% which was 3,860% higher than the benchmark set, and drove the most sign ups during the entire campaign.

Over 200 merch units with Monica’s design were sold on the teams’ online shops throughout the summer, contributing $105K to the Women’s Sports Foundation to support their work to advance equity in sports.

The Women’s Empowerment Game, streamed on Paramount+, became Gotham FC’s most-viewed match, drawing 11,010 P2+ viewers.

Uniting women’s soccer fans, Johnnie Walker helped build fandom and community engagement across 19 Fan Fests and watch parties in partnership with ACFC, Gotham FC and SB Nation in major U.S. cities.

Sustaining amplification tactics with Erin and Ali garnered an additional 10.7M+ earned media and 426.4K+ talent social impressions, furthering the reach of the campaign.


Video for Johnnie Walker “Watch Women’s Sports” Campaign

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Johnnie Walker