Good Things Come to Those Who…Advertise? Part III. The Television Age

by mnkcopyblog

The first TV ads for Guinness were shown on the first night of commercial broadcasting in 1955. Those first TV ads were effectively the Gilroy posters come to life – the zookeeper gets his Guinness stolen and so on.

It’s not until the following decade that things get interesting. 1966 saw the introduction of the After Work ads, where we see shipyard workers, farmers, and factory workers finishing work for the day and indulging with a drink. ‘Guinness Gives You Strength’ is sung over the top, and the positioning has become more focused – this is a working man or woman’s drink.

J Walter Thompson took over the account in 1969. They gave us the Black Pot ad of 1976: ‘There’s a certain pleasure in slowly putting away the Black’. Many of their ads were set within pubs and were made up of dialogue between a Guinness drinker and a Guinness sceptic as the one contradicted the other’s preconceptions, though one rather ingeniously features the single word well said ten times.

And in 1981 they started the ‘Bottle of Guinness Supporters’ Club’ campaign. The positioning is similar to the After Work ads – Guinness as the drink of the working man. In the ads a builder or mechanic tells the story in rhymed song of how they managed to fix something before heading to the pub to join the Bottle of Guinness Supporters’ Club’ – ‘it’s real full-bodied like a man’s drink should…’

What happened next sets the tone for much of the advertising of the noughties. Allen, Brady and Marsh took over in 1983 and created the Guinnless campaign, with then unknown figures like Angus Deayton and Robert Bathurst helping those afflicted with the strange disorder of Guinnlessness to order a proper pint.

What’s interesting is that the ads are clearly targeted at a slightly different market, the younger, working male demographic – and this is something that characterises Guinness advertising from now onwards, the problem of the pint’s perception as an ‘old-man-in-the-corner’s-drink’.

I’ve found conflicting reports on the campaign’s effectiveness. Allen, Brady and Marsh lost the account after a year, but according to The Independent the Guinnless campaign halted a decline in sales.