LONDON: Diageo, the spirits group, is attempting to drive up premium sales in Western Europe by focusing on experiential marketing.

In spite of the financial challenges which are discernible in many of the region's leading markets, John Kennedy, president of Diageo's Western European operation, was optimistic about its prospects.

"Europe is the global luxury capital," he told Bloomberg. "We're talking about affordable luxuries, not driving a Porsche through the centre of town."

To tap this potential, the firm is providing unique experiences for affluent customers, rather than simply relying on conventional communications.

"We're not going to just make a television advert," said Kennedy. "We'll have big, spectacular experiential marketing."

One example of this has been chartering a luxury yacht for the John Walker & Sons Voyager campaign, which hopes to raise awareness of offerings like Odyssey, a whiskey commanding £750 per bottle.

As detailed by an entry to the Warc Prize for Innovation, this trip began in Asia Pacific, but has recently visited cities like London and Athens. High-profile celebrity parties are a key component of the initiative.

Diageo is also weighing up whether to build a Johnnie Walker sales branch for Europe, having opened two such "houses" in China - based in Shanghai and Beijing - where the typical bottle sold costs £1,500.

At present, single-malt whiskies make up the body of Diageo's reserve brand sales in Europe, a category which expanded by 11% last year.

Marketing expenditure on its reserve brands has increased in Western Europe, where the company has cut back its investment in promotions.

Ciroc vodka and Don Julio tequila are among the other premium brands with particular room for growth, according to Kennedy.

Data sourced from Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff