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brandingResponsible Marketing

Should I drink a Guinness today?

By March 17, 2008June 28th, 20215 Comments

A couple of pints of stout

St. Patrick’s Day on a Monday? Blasphemy!

When in Dublin a few years ago, I visited the Guinness Storehouse and was most impressed by the section dedicated to their advertising archive, most of the second floor.

“Guinness is good for you” was a claim made in the company’s adverts after market research revealed people felt good after a pint. Their classic “Guinness for strength” from the 1920’s included a man carrying a girder with one hand, a man chopping down a tree with one swing of the ax, and a man pulling his horse in a wagon.

Today, the company promotes responsible drinking, but the following ad got them into a little trouble in 2006:

Alcohol industry watchdog the Marin Group had strong words for Diageo, Guinness’ holding company:

The ad unambiguously envokes a child’s delight on Christmas morning. But in place of toys and games, the young men are depicted on their knees before an enormous quantity of beer.

Diageo’s own marketing code says that models must look at least 25 years age and not appear to condone or encourage excessive or irresponsible drinking. The Guinness St. Patrick’s Day campaign also appears to condone irresponsible drinking, in this case large quantities of beer in the morning. It also defies still another provision that says Diageo ads will not use any image or symbol that appeals to underage youth. One can hardly imagine an image with more appeal to youth than the excitement of Christmas morning.

This year, the company fell well short of their goal of getting one million people to sign a petition to have the U.S. Congress declare St. Patrick’s Day a national holiday.

I don’t drink beer often, but when I do, it usually is a Guinness. I wouldn’t go so far to say I’m a fan, but I am a fan of great advertising and branding.

I sure would love to hoist a pint since it’s St. Paddy’s, but I’ll honor your wishes.

Place your vote here, now:


Thanks for your vote, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


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Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Patrick – I think you should have a beer (or three) of your choice today, although I personally like the taste of Guinness (it’s not yummy to me). I actually thought the advertisement you posted was funny and didn’t see anything wrong with it.

    BTW – Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

  • Vernon C./Vpc says:

    Responsible is in the eye of the beholder … alcohol, tobacco, drug industries, automobiles (Fast or sleek in design), clothing apparel, etc. have a basic paradigm of performance … sell the product, entice the buying public, and have a return on the investment of marketing the name so that its recognition is within the specifics of that market place. So what one chooses to consume is based on personnel diatribes of paradigms in place within ones own small but ever expanding universe of consumption. I don’t drink alcohol, but I do drink coffee, and I go to Dunkins because I want coffee, and not a Starbucks diatribe of excess verbiage nonsensical choices of coffee that is not coffee; my choice. So my answer to the poll … go where you go, because its where ” you want to go”.

    My best regards,

  • G. La Tournerie says:

    Ethically you make a point. However as I reread this the reader has to ask themselves, please list all other products that market responsibly.

    The piece mentioned Guinness marketing in the 1920’s advocating all the health aspects of a pint or two a day of Guinness. That same advice was advocated in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Chezh Slovakia, Poland, and other parts of Western Eastern Europe. As a tonic for women to rebuild their physical constitution after child birth!!

    Please see the 1979 text Book, The Promise and the Dream, a History of Marketing of Products, many of which were neither ethical, nor delivered the Promise nor the Dream.

    Marketing is also driven by National, regional , ethic, religious mores within which we are attempting to market, sell, cross-sell, gain market a % of share for a specific product, services, groups, series of products, services.

    I still think that you raise a great point.


    G. La Tournrie
    Wexford Systems, LLC.

  • Deston says:

    I think it’s hilarious, and I don’t even imbibe. Any ad that cuts through the droning, mindless clutter is welcome in my book. Edgy is fine, and since it shows adults, we can all enjoy a good chuckle out of it.

  • Mike Rask says:

    I am not able to view the ad, but will ask these questions:

    * Were the ads placed in age appropriate medias?
    * Were the ads specifically designed to be viewed as parodies?
    * Do the ads condone an inappropriate action?

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