Have you ever been to the Guinness Factory? I can now successfully say I have after convincing the girls into taking a trip down last weekend. (above- the must do Dublin Guinness Factory picture). It was a great day out and of course, we did not pass up the opportunity to go into the city and treat ourselves to dinner and drinks. BUT, the factory itself was, in fact, really interesting and definitely something I would encourage everyone to do. As part of the tour we went into a room with huge screens showing the Guinness adverts playing on repeat. This sparked an interest with me into the Guinness adverts themselves and I soon realised that, despite there being hundreds of diverse adverts, they all have one thing in common… A storytelling technique, which creates an effective emotional appeal.
Take the ‘surfer’ commercial (I’m sure you will immediately visualise this, but if not I have inserted it below) which tells the story of the surfers waiting with anticipation to catch the perfect wave. The surfer waiting symbolises the slow pour of the Guinness pint and how we should feel when we are waiting on the pint. This advert was released in 1998, and really was the first of its kind to UK TV. I remember watching the advert as a kid, completely unaware of the symbolism it carried. I simply just watched the surf and the galloping white horses, no concept of the legacy this PR technique has left, allowing many to become hooked on a ‘pint of black’.
Another commercial shown, entitled “Empty Chair” caught my attention. This showed a group of young men playing basketball in wheelchairs. This advert adopted an unusual, unique technique as it deliberately withheld information from the audience. The abstract setting of the advertisement initially led me to question: “what has a game of wheelchair basketball got to do with my choice of drink in the pub on a Friday night?” The hidden gem of information in this advertisement was that all but one of the men were actually able-bodied and capable of walking thus capable of playing a game of basketball without the aid of a wheelchair. This was intelligently revealed only at the end when the game drew to a close. The message to this particular story was about friendship and loyalty with the theme of inclusivity also featuring prominently. This further relayed the brand’s key message that Guinness is a drink to be enjoyed by all, regardless of who you are. No matter how many times I watch this advert, I am still filled with a sense of happiness and content as I can appreciate the message being portrayed.
A final commercial I want to mention is the ‘Sapeurs’ one (again linked below). What I loved most about this advert was the positive message it portrayed about Africa, something which is rarely shown. With most adverts about Africa being those of charities, focussing on pity and promoting a call to action to donate, it was nice to see this was different. The message, however in this advert was this ability to defy your set circumstances and live beyond boundaries. Another dimension to this advert I observed was the focus on globalisation of the Guinness Brand. When someone mentions Guinness, a lot of people immediately and jokingly make reference to leprechauns and pots of gold. However, this advert shows the famous stout being enjoyed in a very contrast setting than to that typically associated with the brand. Again, this highlights the fact that the Guinness brand is recognised and enjoyed by those of various races from many different countries and cultures.
There is also a subtle reference to the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. Two lines are quoted from the poem: “I am the master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul”. The title of this poem translated from Latin to English means “unconquerable” or “undefeated”; portraying the lasting legacy of the famous Guinness brand worldwide.
These three adverts have no direct link. If you removed the Guinness branding and played these adverts you would have no idea that they are from the same company promoting the same product. But, what they all do is tell a story and engage us in feeling something whether it be anticipation, happiness, inspiration or positivity or even all of these things. What they all do is make us emotional and make us feel something. It is these feelings that they want us to associate with Guinness. They want us to believe that waiting the 120 seconds (fact learnt at the factory) to enjoy the perfect pint is worth the wait. Personally, I am yet to become hooked on the Guinness product itself but I do appreciate their creative advertising.
Niamh Webb is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @1234niamh, and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-webb-2b5260107/