Interview with Emma Pollock

Marketing & Communications Manager, Johnnie Walker

Tell us about yourself. How did you end up in your current role?

I’ve been in the industry for 13 years, starting off in roles within PR agencies working on FMCG, tourism and public sector clients, which led me to my time at the Scottish Government where I gained global marketing experience within the International team.

After eight years in Edinburgh in agency and in-house roles, I moved to London five years ago to join Diageo, where I joined the marketing team leading our luxury portfolio and specifically our whisky brands across Europe.  From there, I was approached to cover a secondment to head up corporate relations which led me back to Scotland.   

During this time, Diageo made the investment announcement into Scotch whisky tourism and a role was created to lead the Johnnie Walker brand in Scotland which blended my marketing and whisky experience.  In the last two years, we have built Johnnie Walker’s visibility and availability in Scotland, with transformational plans across integrated marketing, media, digital and partnerships.


What brands are you most impressed by at the moment? Any campaigns which have particularly caught your eye?

I’ve been impressed by the agility and pace of many brands to turn around new campaigns in light of Covid; reworking messaging, adapting creative and being selective of channel strategies to target audiences in new and engaging ways.

I’ve always admired Nike as a global brand that manages to create a sense of community, and the ‘Play for the World, Play Inside’ campaign, has reiterated the stay at home message in a way that underpins its core values of inspiring athletes of any level.

I’d have to flag another Diageo brand, Guinness - launching a St Patrick’s Day campaign like no other, which went live the week the world went into lockdown, reinforcing to celebrate safely in the true spirit of the Guinness brand.

Finally, VisitScotland’s creative always instills a huge sense of pride for me as a Scot.  The ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ piece of creative from the beginning of lockdown was a heartfelt message to locals and consumers which set the tone for the state of the nation, with a reassuring outlook that normality would one day return.


Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry?

I wouldn’t say that I have one particular person as an inspiration, but I have to say that the marketing industry in Scotland hugely inspires me.  It’s also a close-knit community, so creativity in the industry inspires everyone to up their game and collectively represent our marketing community together.  It’s important we nurture talent in Scotland as an innovative and creative hub – and the way to do this, is market ourselves and our brilliant industry even more.

The one campaign you are most proud of during your time with your organisation?

The Johnnie Walker transformation campaign – relaunching the brand in Scotland last year.  Making one of Scotland’s biggest global brands relevant in culture was no mean feat, and we worked hard with event partners, customers, and agencies to shift brand perception, drive sales and win market share.  We’ve grown a team in Scotland that has helped us deliver across different disciplines and channels, and we’ve proudly expanded our external network with partners who are passionate about working together to deliver integrated plans.

What's on the horizon for you?

I’m passionate about building heritage brands in culture and would like to continue to devise and shape marketing plans which make consumers fall in love with them as much as I do.

Emma is taking part in the Creative Challenge Client v Agencies event at this year's Amplify Virtual Festival.

Sign up here.