There is nothing so quintessentially Irish as a pint of the black stuff. And it has to be said, credit where it is due, the marketing genius of Diageo has propelled the Guinness brand into every household with a television and into the taps of every Irish bar around the world. The brand has such power here that Guinness has managed to create a “national holiday” dedicated to the dry stout’s founder, Arthur Guinness. Here in Ireland, and in cities and towns the world over with a heavy Irish influence, Arthur’s Day is celebrated with a reverence undeserved of such a blatant Hallmark Holiday. Like I said, marketing genius.
But whether or not I enjoy the odd pint or two of Guinness, I would not be able to bring myself to deny the power of their advertisement campaign. I saw a clip of their latest foray into emotional manipulation yesterday which prompted me to ponder just how much of an effect one brand with a highly successful campaign can have on the unsuspecting masses.
The advert in question is below. I appreciate the sentiment, in fact, I almost teared up when I watched it. I however do not equate the feeling of togetherness with having a laugh over a pint of Guinness, but rather having a laugh with friends anywhere, usually the location and the choice of frosty beverage is not relevant. Perhaps the two are not mutually exclusive, but I find it a bit unsettling that Guinness would want to cash in on something so touching, something as important as the message of respect. Then again, surely there’s no harm in a highly thought of and sought-after brand like Guinness highlighting some of the perceived problems in our society? Besides, it’s part of the Guinness Gives Back campaign. (I don’t know what that means yet.)
Not to let this opinion piece descend into the negative, I’d like to show you a Guinness ad that I believe has a similar feel to the one above, yet done in a slightly more original way. Once again championing the virtues of friendship, loyalty and togetherness, I give you Michael Guinnessbender.
And now for the flagship commercial for their Arthur’s Day campaign. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great ad. In it we see people from all over the world, all walks of life, raising a glass to Arthur Guinness in commemoration of the man who did the world a total solid by introducing us to the black stuff and giving us 250 years of it. In an amusing turn the original sentiment gets somewhat lost like it would in an international game of Chinese Whispers and in the end it turns out people don’t really care what or who they’re toasting to, only that they’re toasting with a pint of Guinness. Because Guinness Is Good For You.
The introduction of Arthur’s Day always completely bemused me. I understand that what Guinness has accomplished is massive, and that having a celebration of its 250th birthday is a nice idea. But turning it into a yearly event? So everyone can spend their weekly wages on a night out with Guinness, to celebrate the contributions of a man who refused to hire any Irish Catholic employees in his factory and directly opposed Irish independence? I don’t get it. But whether or not I understand is irrelevant, because it has become a day to rival St. Patrick’s in festivities. Stars and artists from all over the world come to Ireland to perform “secret” gigs in our pubs and clubs. Dublin rocks and its people revel.
Parents who had children born on the first Arthur’s Day named them Arthur, only to find out the following year that Arthur’s Day wouldn’t be on the same date. I’m sorry but, lol.
I would be remiss if I didn’t post the video that started such a consistently prolific marketing campaign. In this next clip we have an Irish chancer busting a move or two while waiting impatiently for his Guinness to settle. Brilliant.
And now, finally, for the reason that makes me so conflicted when it comes to Guinness marketing. Their Christmas ad. Every year, as soon as it comes on my screen, it’s like it’s officially Christmas. It is gorgeous, it is simple, and it hits me inexplicably and directly in the feels, making me so proud of the beautiful country that I hail from.
Would you excuse me, I appear to have something in my eye…
Despite my cynicism, I am such a consumer.
This year Arthur’s Day will fall on the 26th of September. Do you celebrate Arthur’s Day where you’re from? Do you enjoy a Guinness? What’s your favourite Guinness ad? In fact, what’s your favourite ad, period?
Sláinte! I’m off for a pint.