William Lawson’s Response to the Haka

William Lawson’s, the Scotch whisky owned by Bacardi-Martini, was promoted in 2000 through a Scottish reply to a New Zealand Maori haka. The TV ad begins with a team of Scotsmen wearing only kilts, running onto a stadium to play rugby union football. As the crowd cheers a New Zealand Maori team run on, sparking a Mexican wave.

Maori haka in William Lawson's Scotch TV Ad

The Maoris line up for the haka, the traditional dance used as a challenge for combat. As they go through their stirring performance, the Scots stand there in their boots, resolute. At the end of the haka, the Scotsmen produce their own cultural challenge, silently lifting up the front of their kilts. The super and voiceover: “William Lawson’s. No Rules, Great Scotch.” Click on the image below to play the video.

The haka spot was shot in the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand.

Scots response to haka in William Lawson's TV Ad


The No Rules campaign was developed at McCann-Erickson, Brussels by creative director/copywriter Jean-Luc Walraff, copywriter Philippe Thito, art director Michel Derese and agency producer Anne Gasia.

Filming was shot by director Olivier Venturini via Pix & Motion, Brussels, with director of photography Danny Hiele, executive producers Brigitte Baudine and Kato Maes. Pix & Motion have since joined with Roses are Blue to form Caviar.

Music was produced at ZOO Productions, Brussels.


The Haka TV ad won two awards, the Mondial de la Pub des Pays Francophones, 2001 (Silver) for Nations Prize: Belgium, and winner in the Alcoholic Drinks section in the Epica 2001 Awards.

The Effie Awards of Belgium recognised the effectiveness of the Haka campaign in establishing William Lawson’s whisky in Belgium as the drink of irreverence, virility, authentic Scottishness, impertinence and humour. At the same time there was no connection made between consumption of alcohol and sporting or sexual performance.


In 2004 McCann Erickson Belgium followed up the haka ad with ‘Scottish Instinct’, set in a hotel lobby. One of the bare chested kilted men encounters a man and a woman, creating an effect on both as he crosses his legs. The campaign was developed by creative director and art director Jean-Luc Walraff, directed by Barry Myers at Michael De Wouters Production House. Account Manager was Nathalie Marchand.

7 Replies to “William Lawson’s Response to the Haka”

  1. please can someone tell me the name of the man with the kilt and the long hair, i think he is perfect and i want to be his fan but i don’t know any adress that i could search for informations.

  2. As a true Scot I would not wash my feet in Lawson’s Whisky
    Malt is King in Scotland.
    Though their advertising takes a lot of beating

  3. hi i have 4 bottles of william lawson whiskey that i am currently selling we recieved them as wedding presents as we were married in gretna green as neither myself or my husband drink whiskey we would gladly sell you the bottles for £10 each.

    1. Claire, Have you already sold your 4 bottles of William Lawson Whiskey? If you have not I would like to buy them.

      If you could please let me know either way it would be much appreciated.


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