My uncle PJ lives in a rural village in Ireland and when he’s in his local pub he sits at the bar and nods ever so slightly at the barman, Liam. No words. Just a faint lift of the head. If you blinked, you’d miss it. But Liam doesn’t miss it. He knows what PJ wants. He ritually pours a Guinness, pint obviously, with the famous 2 part pour, (you have to leave it to settle a minute in between pours, you have to leave it settle!) He then stares at his pint, eyes it up for a few seconds, licks his lips and takes a sup. He does this every time without fail. I’ve seen him do it for years. He loves Guinness…
Building advocates out of non adopters
How does a local brand from a small country resonate around the world? How does a brand become inherently part of a nation’s DNA? How does a brand instil pride in it’s country people even though not everyone wants to drink it? Is it heritage? The history it represents? Guinness is arguably Ireland’s most famous export. I don’t drink Guinness with the exception of a token pint on Paddy’s Day. For me, it’s a man’s drink, a meal in a glass, it’s too heavy and I don’t like the taste. But I love Guinness. I love what it represents, it’s deeply routed into our culture. I’m a Guinness advocate and I don’t even drink it. I love the brand, not the product. Walk through the city centre in Dublin any morning, any day of the week and you’ll experience the smell of Dublin, barley roasting in the Guinness Brewery at St James’s Gate, where Guinness has been for over 250 years. You can smell it all over the city. It defines the city.
The Pursuit of More
Guinness’s latest ad ‘The Pursuit of More’ is a masterpiece of emotive storytelling, beautiful cinematography and brings the viewers inside St James’s Gate, giving us a raw and romantic insiders view of the world behind the craft.
With famous Irish actor Killian Murphy as the VO, he evocatively tells the story of the heritage of the brand “We’ve travelled to nearly every corner of the earth, commissioned our own fleet of ships and even built our own railway. Because we believed in the beer we brewed and we wanted everyone to taste it.”
The relationships that Guinness have built:“Guinness has always been about beer and people. We have bonds with Irish farmers than span generations.”
The craft: “Everyday we roast our own barley to a black state of perfection.”
Our ancestry: “And we’re proud to say that many of us have entered these gates in the footsteps of our parents and grandparents.”
A nod to the past and passion for the future: “We’re only 255 years into a 9,000 year lease. And we have a lot more beer to make.”
Guinness has always been about storytelling and true character. The brand has such loyal advocates as it positions itself at the heart of what makes society tick, relationships. Storytelling. Two men sitting at the bar, sharing stories over a pint. In recent years, Guinness’s positioning has been “Made of More”, that Guinness is made of stronger substance (not alcohol!) than just the ingredients, the same goes for those who drink it. They are made of more. In 2012 they initially launched a high production Made of More brand film that got mixed reviews. Yes it was a beautiful film piece but it didn’t resonate with anyone.
They rethought their strategy and brought it back to what they do best, storytelling. Positioning Guinness at the centre. This really resonated in the US market when Guinness revealed the brand’s true character in a number of stories about friendship and hope. Made of More is Guinness revealing to society what they think is important in life “the choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.” Hats off to them, a bold move for an alcohol brand to think they have such a say in human behaviours. But we really can see Guinness’s true character. Made of More.
Guinness has always produced iconic advertising. Here are my favourite Guinness ads.
The Surfer. Good things come to those who wait
There’s no time like Guinness Time
Guinness 250 anniversary ad: To Martha!
Director of Brand Projects