Johnnie Walker Pays $22 Million For Visor Sticker

A true story: a friend was in line at BevMo last week, and was behind someone buying massive amounts of booze. It wasn’t for a party - he had just been laid off, and was stocking up for the holidays. It’s a brutal story, but perhaps also a sign that beer and spirit makers like Diageo, the brand behind Guinness, Smirnoff, and Johnnie Walker, might be one of the few companies to be recession-proof.

Lewis Hamilton

Still, it’s a little shocking to read in the TIMES ONLINE (UK) that in a time when sports advertising and endorsement deals worldwide are being impacted, Diageo is planning on going ahead full scale with their deals in 2009. Chief among these deals is one that places the Johnnie Walker logo square on the visor of Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton. The cost? Roughly $22 million a year.

“And Diageo isn’t done, as CEO Paul Walsh says there will be even more chances for sponsorship as brands in, let’s just call them less strong markets, pull out:

Sipping a half-pint of Guinness during a visit to Diageo’s Edinburgh offices, Walsh said: “There will be further opportunities, because others, such as the banks, will probably leave that space.”

And I guess he’s right: banks might go out of business, but people are still going to want their booze. Things are tough all over elsewhere or UK sports: even storied Manchester United is falling short of selling out their home games. But meanwhile, Diageo is paying $22 million for a sticker, while their CEO is sipping on Guinness during interviews.

But I can relate: I’m drinking an Old Milwakuee while writing this post. It’s basically the same thing!