Tribute to Keep Walking demonstrates the power of emotion

by Nigel Hollis | January 13, 2016

By now you may well have seen the video titled ‘Johnnie Walker – Dear Brother’. In spite of the title, it is not an ad commissioned by the fine folks at Diageo, but originates from Dorian Lebherz & Daniel Titz and the Film Academy of Baden-Württemberg. However, the video is as compelling as anything produced for the lauded ‘Keep Walking’ campaign and left me reflecting on why.

If you have not seen Dear Brother, now would be a great time to take a look. There is no point in me describing the evocative scenes when you can simply watch them for yourself. Based on my own reaction, that of professional observers, and that of the commentators on YouTube I suspect you will find the experience worthwhile.


So, I assume that you found the video moving in some way. By moving I mean that you experienced some emotion while watching it. Which is strange because you know it is not real, right? It is a story. It is made up. But something about that story gets us to suspend our disbelief and get drawn into the narrative to experience the feeling of connection, melancholy and finally reconciliation. (The ad reminded me of the sad-vertising debate of several years ago. I would love to see what facial coding would have to tell us about the flow of emotion in the video.)

Interviewed by AdFreak, Dorian Lebherz suggests that the story is based on ‘Keep Walking’ and that Daniel Titz and he wanted to create an emotional story. Referencing the brand’s current campaign which goes by the title ‘Joy Will Take You Further’ and features celebrities in a series of different clips, Lebherz states,

“We think that a visually told story that creates emotions is always stronger than just showing different settings without storytelling.”

Well that is certainly the case for ‘Dear Brother’, but why? My belief is that it is because the audience is left to interpret the action for themselves. The video delivers an impression not a message, and leaves much to the imagination. What is that ruin? Did they grow up there? How did the brother die? In spite of being a made-up story feels authentic; true to what it is to be human. As a result, we identify with the emotions portrayed by the actors and the story resonates in a way that so many ads do not.

One last thought which anyone involved in advertising would do well to note; the Johnnie Walker ‘Keep Walking’ campaign was the inspiration for the video but, perhaps because it was not being produced as an ad, the brand is seamlessly integrated into the flow of the story; it is not forced or an afterthought; the brand has a natural role within the story.

So what do you think of Dear Brother? Please share your thoughts.


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  1. Agnes - Kenya, March 02, 2016
    Brilliant.  Shows the power of emotion.
  2. Evanson - Kenya, January 20, 2016

    This Is a masterpiece. Indeed it dwells on emotions we can all identify with and everything flows in a way that is too treal it felt 3D.

    Now I need a double black

  3. Tanha, January 14, 2016

     I've seen this video a couple of times before, but never thought about it from audio perspective. I just watched it again on mute, and I think I prefer it with the voice over and music in the background. The story of their childhood and connection with the past kind of it makes it more poignant. 

    Also, the video is perhaps somewhat on the long side. So don't think many would have gone through with watching the entire length without the audio. I, in fact, have the audio going on now in the background w/o the video and it is still quite nice. Makes me think of my own home, maybe it is just me.


  4. Nigel, January 14, 2016

    Thanks for the comments.

    I am intrigued, does anyone else agree with Paul? Obviously a story does not necessarily need a story teller but I did not feel the narration was at odds.

  5. Deepa Sridhar, January 14, 2016
    The essence of the tag line "Keep Walking'" comes alive in this narrative so beautifully. It is so powerful and yet so subtle. It leaves you with a feeling of wanting to know more as if a teaser to a larger film in store.
  6. Paul , January 13, 2016

    Was it just me that found the narration incongruous & irritating in a way that limits what otherwise the video's impact could have been?

    I watched it again silently & for me it had greater impact, making me wonder specifically& generally about emotional interactions between  all of the senses..

  7. Ed C, January 13, 2016

    I saw this quote about the new Star Wars movie, which summarizes it well. From the beginning of time, it seems we like stories that touch us in some way:

    “The studios finally seem to be remembering, after years of over-reliance on visual effects, that moviegoers like a story,” Jeanine Basinger, a film studies professor at Wesleyan University and the author of books including “The Star Machine,” said on Sunday. “It can be a story we are familiar with. It can be a serialized story. But give us, please, we’re begging you, a story of some kind.”

  8. Guy Powell, January 13, 2016


    Great video.  You're so right.  We have the 5 senses that advertising can impact, but adding strong emotions can bring it all together for the brand.


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