Leo Burnett, Herd MSL unveil ‘Keep Walking Proudly’ short for Johnnie Walker

Leo Burnett, Herd MSL unveil 'Keep Walking Proudly' short for Johnnie Walker Mardi Gras Debutante Ball

Melissa Barry: “A chance to celebrate the trailblazers who paved the way for others.”

Scotch whisky beverage brand Johnnie Walker, along with Leo Burnett Australia and Herd MSL, have launched a film showcasing their ‘Keep Walking Proudly’ campaign – which featured a Debutante Ball held last month in partnership with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Following a national search led by PR agency Herd MSL, the campaign saw Robyn Kennedy (who attended the first parade in 1978), paper artist Benja Harney, and trans-couture designer couple Katie and Lillian Nicol-Ford invite people who had never attended Mardi Gras to join in 2024. Eight debutants were chosen to experience their first Mardi Gras.

The debutants were brought to Sydney to have their debut celebrated by the community at large with an event held at LGBTQIA+ venue, Kinselas, hosted by Australian actress and singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte.

The event was supported by a launch across OOH, online film, activation, and social.

Melissa Barry, portfolio marketing manager at Diageo, said the ‘Keep Walking Proudly’ campaign aligns with Johnnie Walker’s history of advocacy for progress – both societal and personal.

“As a proud partner of Mardi Gras, embracing this moment as a chance to celebrate the trailblazers who paved the way for others to walk proudly and connecting them to newcomers who’d be walking for the first time was something we were delighted to make happen.”

Stacey Karayannis and Rosie Stone, associate creative directors at creative agency Leo Burnett Australia, said they enjoyed subverting the traditions of a debutante ball.

“Being able to bring [the debutantes’] stories to life, create connections between the debutantes and trailblazers from the community, and celebrate their moment in front of a proud and welcoming crowd has been such a privilege,” they said.

Earlier this month, Karayannis was recognised by the Next Creative Leaders Awards, developed by The One Club for Creativity and The 3% Movement, for their work and unique point of view on creative leadership.

Said Karayannis to Mediaweek at the time: “I’m very chuffed to be recognised alongside some awesome talent from all over the world. Hopefully, we can all keep pushing each other to create great work and keep the future of the industry strong.”

See also: Next Creative Leaders awards recognises Stacey Karayannis and Kiah Nicholas for their work and leadership

Campaign Credits

Diageo | Johnnie Walker
Melissa Barry Marketing manager
Emma Ryan Brand manager
Rebekah Allison Media and connections planning lead  

Leo Burnett Australia | Johnnie Walker 
Account Management
James Walker-Smith General manager
Andrew Thistlethwaite Group business director
Gemma Cox Group business director
Cameron Dobbelsteyn Business director 
Rosie Dingle Senior business manager

Dhiv Pillai Senior strategy director 

Andy Fergusson National chief creative officer
Tim Woolford Group creative director
Tommy Cehak – Group creative director 
Stacey Karayannis – Associate creative director
Rosie Stone – Associate creative director 
Johnson Diep – Conceptual designer 

Production / Studio 
Tamara Kennon – Senior integrated producer
Francesca D’Orazio – Senior Film Producer 

PR – Herd MSL
Rachel Shun Group account director 
Janete Sampaio Senior account director
Savannah Fielder – Account director
Ross Stebbing Account director
Mirna Elsabie Account manager 
Sarah Findlay – Senior account executive 
Lucy Lincoln – Account coordinator 

Experiential Production, Design & Programming – Alfred 
Stuart Couzens Founder 
Mason Browne – Senior creative producer

Media – Foundation 
Tegan Conn – Business director 
Natasha Galasso Account manager
Maggie Concepcion Account coordinator

Selina Miles – Director
Adrian Shapiro and Kate Gooden – Executive producers
Tessa Simpson – Producer
Scott Heldorf – DOP
John Young – 1st AC
Lee Kelly – Sound
Pete Sutton – Gaffer
Ting (Adisug) Tubtim – Best boy
Aisha Phillips – Art director
Kellie Montgomery – Wardrobe stylist
Mat Hornby – Hair and makeup artist:
Nicola Sinclair – Food stylist:
Milos Mlynarik – Stills photographer

Selina Miles – Editor
Matt Fezz – Grade and online
Sonar – Sound Studio

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