Legacy brand turned challenger: Doubling the size of a legacy brand by thinking like a challenger

IPA Effectiveness Awards Case Study 2020

New gin launches had chipped share away from Diageo’s market-leading brand, Gordon’s. Adopting a challenger mind set, Gordon’s re-launched with a new positioning, ‘Shall we?” emphasising sociability, and a new premium berry variant, Gordon’s Pink. Investment was split 60% behind the main brand and 40% the new product. TV, posters and digital were used, as well as smart targeting. Between 2017 and 2017, Gordon’s value sales more than doubled and Gordon’s Pink became the UK’s number two gin brand. The re-launch attracted drinkers new to the brand and to gin. It is estimated the re-launch generated £843m of incremental revenue in 2017-19.

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There are three things that we have embedded into our campaign planning as a result of the Gordon’s success story: Belief in the scale of change possible Diageo has the privilege of owning over 200 brands; many, like 250 year old Gordon’s, with long histories. The transformative change that we achieved with Gordon’s over the last three years of its history has been a valuable lesson for us in what is possible. Gordon’s had a 38% share of the market , but was under intense pressure from both established competition & literally hundreds of new entrants to the market . Yet, we proved it is possible to more than double the size of the brand in three years . That is the scale of what is possible. The importance of the right ‘mindset’ Many legacy brands these days are under pressure from new entrants to their markets. In this situation, it is easy to become defensive. But what Gordon’s shows us so clearly is that legacy brands can benefit enormously from adopting a proactive ‘challenger brand mindset’ . More specifically, this case has inspired us as an organisation to embrace entrepreneurial principles such as looking for ways to save in some areas in order to invest in others and how zag when others are zigging. How to use NPD strategically The creation & launch of Gordon’s Premium Pink has also thrown a spotlight on the importance of NPD that is strategically aligned to the brand. And our experimentation with the balance of brand vs NPD advertising support levels has been revelatory. In this case, the right balance was a 60:40 split of brand comms:NPD comms . This learning has been fed into the Diageo Marketing Catalyst campaign planning tool which is used throughout Diageo to plan future campaigns worldwide.

Mark Jarman, Global Head of Gordon's Gin

Winners 2020

Silver Winner


Legacy brand turned challenger: Doubling the size of a legacy brand by thinking like a challenger


Gordon's Gin




Anomaly London

Principal Authors

  • Vicki Holgate - Diageo
  • Mark Jarman - Diageo
  • Stuart Smith - Anomaly London
  • Emiliana Vidali - Diageo

Contributing Authors

  • Ronan Beirne - Diageo
  • Sri Shan - Diageo
  • Anita Robinson - Diageo
  • Jessica Lace - Diageo
  • Andrew Deykin - Data2Decisions
  • Jessica Collings - 1000Heads
  • Ant Harris - Anomaly London
  • Shai Idelson - Anomaly London
  • Harriet Mansfield - CGA
  • Jessica Walsh - Kantar
  • Venya Wijegoonewardene - Carat

Credited Companies

  • Anomaly London - Creative Agency
  • Data2Decisions - Econometrics
  • CGA - Other|Market Data
  • Kantar - Other|Brand Tracking
  • Carat - Media Agency
  • 1000Heads - Social

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