A History of Guinness’ Advertising: Through the Decades

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Guinness’ advertising campaigns are almost as iconic as the drink itself. For years they have brought consumers striking, clever and amusing adverts which are as memorable as your first taste of the Irish stout. Until the 1930’s Guinness relied on word of mouth to sell but after a slump in sales they decided to invest in advertising and have produced effective campaigns ever since. Here is a rundown of the best adverts we think Guinness has ever made and there are many to choose from. Benson’s poster campaign.


John Gilroy’s Poster Ads

credit: foshie

In the 30’s and 40’s Guinness started to worry about their sales figures and so enlisted advertising heavy weight Bensons to hit consumers and increase sales. What Bensons came up with was a poster campaign which could be considered propaganda of the drinks world. Slogans appeared such as Guinness for Strength, Guinness Makes You Strong and the most well known one of all, “Guinness is good for you.” The convincing slogans, alongside the work of artist of the moment John Gilbert were a recipe for success and Guinness saw their sales sky rocket.


“Toucans” TV Advert


In the early 1950’s Guinness chose the toucan as its mascot to advertise the Guinness brand and has become as well known as the brands other symbol, a harp. In 1955 the ambitious company decided to ‘bring a Guinness poster to life’ and produced a televison advert to run alongside their toucan posters. The ad ran in America and Canada as well as the UK and featured several toucans descending on an army mess and stealing all the soldiers’ beer. It is one of the most well remembered adverts of that generation.


“Surfer” TV advert


This has won ‘Best ad of all time’ categories regularly since it was first shown on UK TV in 1998 and was universally considered a beautiful piece of work by many critics. The ad was directed by Jonathan Glazer and launched by agency Abbott Mead Vickers under the name of Surfer. It features a group of eager surfers waiting on the beach for the perfect wave to come along. When it does they are taken by surprise as real (and now iconic) horses rise out from the water. The soundtrack ‘Phat Planet’ makes it particularly memorable and was created by UK band Leftfield.


“Tipping Point” TV advert


In the early 2000’s Guinness’ ad’s were becoming more and more sophisticated and in 2007 it launched an advert which was part of the most expensive advertising campaign the company had ever run. The advert features a huge dominoes game which brings the whole population of a small village together to play. Among the dominoes are odd and surprising objects which topple down including a suitcase, fridge and car until we reach a collection of books, shaped like a pint of Guinness. It was directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and the cast was made up of residents of the remote Iruya village in Argentina where the sequence was filmed.


“Body Parts” print adverts

As well as sophisticated big budget TV commericals Guinness has also favoured striking print adverts to win them fans. Most recently their ‘Body Parts’ poster ads which show heads and fingerprints morphing into pints of Guinness. The result is an effective, clever campaign which implies that a beer is as individual as a person and fits in perfectly with you and your requirements. It also jumps on the back of marketing Guinness as a product which is ‘alive,’ something the company have been doing for the last twenty years.


If this article has given you a thirst for Guinness then check out GoIreland’s catalogue of hotels in Ireland, and visit the place where the world’s favourite stout was invented.