Jia Zhangke Endorses ‘Rebellion’ In New Johnnie Walker China Ad


Scotch whiskey brand Johnnie Walker garnered mixed reactions when it released a somewhat creepy ad featuring a CGI-animated zombie Bruce Lee this summer, so for its newest video campaign, the Diageo-owned company has opted for some real-life celebrities.

In an event at the Shanghai Film Plaza on October 11, the brand released three short films as part of its “Game Changer” campaign featuring Septwolves Chairman Zhou Shaoxiang, MAD Architects founder Ma Yansong, and Cannes Best Screenplay winner and director Jia Zhangke.

As with the earlier Bruce Lee ad, the three videos feature highly stylized interviews with each famous figure, who discusses his road to success and life philosophy. Interestingly, each of the three videos emphasize ideas of independence, change, freedom, and in the case of Touch of Sin director Jia, even rebellion (panni, 叛逆). With a group of male role models describing their strategies for success, the ads clearly seem to be aimed at men. However, discussion of rebellion and free thinking seem to be less subversive in a political sense and more aimed at providing advice for doing well at one’s job. Through the emphasis on “change” in this campaign, it appears that Johnnie Walker hopes to set itself apart as the drink of the innovative, successful businessman in China.

“I feel that most professional artists feel rebellion is very important. Rebellion demonstrates you have new possibilities,” says Jia in the embedded film above.

Meanwhile, the other figures also emphasize ideas of independence and freedom. “You have to prepare well by yourself in order to persevere in achieving your ideal. Do it yourself, and persist by yourself in doing things. I feel that this is the most important,” advises Ma in his video. “Maintain an independent spirit and a free heart,” he adds.

Also emphasizing the ideas of change and free thought, Zhou Shaoxiong states, “this era most needs new viewpoints.” At the end of each video, a Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle provides a strong hint at what viewers should be drinking when they’re coming up with innovative, fresh, and rebellious ideas.

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