Innovation works

I was at the National Economic Forum this morning, on a panel after the launch by the First Minister of the new Scottish Government Export Strategy.,

As part of the event David Cutter from Diagio spoke about Johnny Walker and the way in which the brand had been developed from its earliest days. It was a fascinating series of thought provoking lessons and I particularly liked this slide about the original John Walker’s son whose two innovations have lasted over 150 years - the square bottle (easier to ship in crates without breakages) and the label at 20 degrees which stands out from the crowd.

They contributed to the success of what was probably the first truly global brand - in 1920 it was shipped to 120 countries whilst Coca Cola at that time was sold in only 3.

Alexander’s grandson, the second Alexander, was the Chair of the Governors of my old school Marr College in Troon when it was being built. His determination made it happen , particularly when the project was halted for two years by shortage of money.

My father was in the first intake when it opened in 1935 and the story of Sir Alexander Walker’s involvement in ensuring that the children of Troon got a first class education in a first class building, free of charge (and got supported thereafter at University or College) was a much told part of the history of what was , in a sense, , Scotland’s first comprehensive school - another innovation.

So I related to David Cutter’s story in a personal way too as I told him afterwards.

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