Serving up a measure of spirit for our times

Brand ambassador: Actor and activist Sophia Bush. Picture: Supplied
Brand ambassador: Actor and activist Sophia Bush. Picture: Supplied


Discovery has launched The Man Who Walked Around the World, award-winning director Anthony Wonke’s new feature documentary about Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker.

The independent film, created by Something™ Originals and produced by multi-award-winning production company Partizan, tells a powerful story of positivity and resilience - exploring how, over two centuries, the brand navigated floods, flu pandemics and World Wars, while making a stand on racial and gender inequality along the way.

“This is the story of Johnnie Walker but it’s more than just a story about whisky, it’s about culture and the universal need to be able to look to the future with hope. That’s what makes it so powerful - it’s not a history lesson, it’s a story for where we are today and what we need to go forward,” says Wonke.

The Academy Award-nominated, Emmy and Bafta-winning director/producer, whose previous documentary subjects include Cristiano Ronaldo, Star Wars and AP McCoy, has spent a large part of his time in lockdown uncovering previously untold stories and perspectives on how Johnnie Walker has constantly overcome adversity with optimism, to cement its place in culture as a global icon.

Sometimes as a film maker you come face-to-face with a story that is uniquely timeless and timely at the same time. If ever there was a need for a story of resilience and optimism and looking to the future with hope, it’s now. The Man Who Walked Around the World is that story.
Anthony Wonke

2020 marks 200 years since Johnnie Walker founder, John Walker, first threw open the doors to a grocer’s shop in Scotland and began a journey that brought the brand from the four corners of Scotland to the four corners of the world.

Today, Johnnie Walker is the world’s number one Scotch whisky brand, enjoyed by people in more than 180 countries. Since the time of its founder, those who blend its whiskies have pursued flavour and quality above else. In those early days of John Walker, the business that became Johnnie Walker carried the name of the founder and during the 19th century the business was selling whiskies under the name of John Walker & Sons. Consumers began using Johnnie Walker and the name was adopted in 1908.

Step into history: An example of a vintage advertising billboard. Picture: TMWWATW Stills JW Advertising

Among a vast roster of contributors to the film is actor, activist and brand ambassador Sophia Bush: “People don’t just want new products that impact their lives; they want brands that impact the world positively. Johnnie Walker has recognised that and continually acted on it through impactful campaigns and programmes. They are prepared to tug at the arc of history and help push culture forward and I am deeply proud to have been on this journey with them in support of their gender equality efforts in particular.”

Bush is joined by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan’s Cappadonna, rock musician Zakk Wylde, 88rising’s Sean Miyashiro, advertising legend Sir John Hegarty and many more as we see the brand’s cultural impact from Myanmar to Brazil, from India to Iraq.

Discovery VP Content Sourcing and Acquisitions Myriam Lopez-Otazu said: “We’re thrilled to be premiering The Man Who Walked Around the World on Discovery platforms and services. It’s a fascinating story and, given where we are in the world right now, a really timely one.”

Diageo Global Scotch Director John Williams added: “Our story is one we’re immensely proud of. We stand for something in Johnnie Walker and that something is progress - we’re always looking to move forward, to make the next day better than the one before. Over two centuries we’ve learned that progress needs resilience and optimism, those are the ideals that lie behind our Keep Walking philosophy and I can’t imagine a time when that philosophy could be any more relevant.”

In his footsteps: The film’s poster.
In his footsteps: The film’s poster.

Something™ Originals Managing Partner Andy Hewitt commented: “Imagining, filming and editing this documentary in the context of a global pandemic, with all of the tensions that this year has brought to the surface, gives this story a profound contemporary relevance that I don’t think anybody could have fully appreciated when we first came up with the idea for the documentary. We couldn’t be prouder of the finished product.”

You can watch the trailer for The Man Who Walked Around the World here: 

The full film will be broadcast on Discovery’s portfolio of brands and services from November 12 and available to view in South Africa. Click here to watch it.



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