A Toast to Guinness Advertising

Guinness produces brilliant advertising. Oh, and their stout is not too shabby either.

For creative types, beer is the Holy Grail of advertising accounts, because almost anything goes. It’s a chance to do outrageous gags with big budgets. But the problem with most beer commercials is that they usually end up being generic and formulaic. Funny set-up, add logo, insert tag line as punch line at the end. Done.

Guinness has always been different. Sure, it’s had plenty of big budget TV spots, but they’ve always been based on the brand’s “unique differentiators” (as they say in marketing-speak): the Irish heritage and the slow pour that a good stout requires. Guinness commercials wouldn’t work for any other brewer.

A Guinness Facebook post recently asked fans to list their favorite tag line from the brand. The responses were many and varied: “Brilliant.” “Good things come to those who wait.” “It’s good for you.” “Guinness for strength.” “It’s alive inside.” “My goodness, my Guinness!”

Vintage Guinness ad illustrated by John Gilroy.

The latest Guinness TV commercial (also on their Facebook page), puts the viewer in the perspective of being inside the world’s biggest pint as it’s being poured from the tap.

Strong Print

Budweiser made an advertising splash in the ’90s with frogs and lizards, but Guinness used animals in their advertising decades ago. Benson advertising first created the iconic Guinness look in the 1930s with posters illustrated by John Gilroy. The ads featured a variety of animals, especially toucans and penguins, with catchy headlines such as “Guinness is good for you,” and “Guinness for Strength.”

Guinness’ TV Budget Runneth Over

Guinness has maintained its position by continually pushing the boundaries of television marketing. The 1999 spot “Surfer,” produced by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, was honored as the “best television commercial of all time” (!) in a UK poll. What does an Irish beer have to do with surfing? The commercial uses Hawaiian surfers who wait for the perfect wave as metaphor for their tag line about time it takes to pour the perfect pint.

The brewer’s “noitulovE” (“evolution” spelled backwards) television commercial was the Cannes Grand Prix winner and most-awarded spot of 2006. Set to the song “The Ryhthm of Life” sung by Sammy Davis Jr., it depicts three Guinness drinkers traveling back time and de-evolving into thirsty mud-skippers. The spot concludes with the pay-off line “Good things come to those who wait.”

Guinness set out to top “noitulovE” in 2007 with their biggest TV production yet—the £10 million “Tipping Point.” Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, the commercial employed an elaborate and increasingly large domino set-up that culminated in a larger-than-life virtual pint in the town square of an Argentine village.

Guinness’ recent print ads have been as distinctive and arresting as the rest of their work. Check out their recent “body parts” campaign.

"Stout as different as you are."

"Stout as smooth as you are."

"Stout as strong as you are."

"Stout as unique as you are."

"What's on your mind?" A few pints of Guinness can make you see things.

What are your favorite Guinness ads? You can view some more Guinness work at designyourway.net. Or perhaps you prefer other beer commercials, like the Budweiser frogs or the Most Interesting Man in the World. What other brewers do you think give Guinness a run for their marketing money?

If you need some time, I understand. I’ll wait while you go pour yourself a pint. Cheers!

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4 Responses to A Toast to Guinness Advertising

  1. I like the print ad As Smooth As You Are AND Brilliant! I hear that a lot when I’m around Bob and Dan!!

  2. Really enjoyed this post.

    Unfortunately I have nothing more to add… other than that I love Guinness!

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