Good Things Come to Those Who…Advertise? Part IV. Ogilvy and Mather, Rutger Hauer, and Black and White

by mnkcopyblog

Ogilvy and Mather took over the Guinness account in 1985. Their first ads were the Pure Genius campaign, notable especially for its poster featuring seven figures illustrating the process of evolution from ape through homo sapiens to pint of Guinness. Come 2005 and it would inspire the noitulove ad.

The copywriter for the Pure Genius campaign was Mark Wnek. He was also behind what came next, the Man with a Guinness ads starring Rutger Hauer, not long after his turn in Blade Runner. The gag was that with his blonde mane and dressed all in black he resembled a pint of Guinness.

From 1987 until 1994 Hauer featured, often pint in hand, in the Guinness ads, some of them directed by Ridley Scott. He would utter surreal, gnomic aphorisms such as ‘It’s not easy being a dolphin’, ‘If you keep an open mind you’ll discover dark secrets’, and telling viewers by means of telepathy of his lost teddy bear Horace.

You could say that all the subsequent stylish, TV event Guinness advertising begins with the Man with a Guinness campaign. The reasoning was that by creating a cool, mysterious figure indelibly linked with the product, Guinness itself took on that same edgy, mysterious aura.

Remember that Guinness was constantly fighting the perception of being a drink of the older generation rather than the young, especially with the growth of lager since the 70s. An injection of mystique was the Ogilvy answer.

The figures that I can find suggest it worked a treat. According to Creative Bloq sales were up by 22 per cent in the first three months of the campaign, and an additional 37 million pints were sold every year.

The campaign with Hauer ended in 1994 and there wasn’t a new campaign from Ogilvy until 1996. In the intermission the Anticipation ad, shown in Ireland since 1994 and hugely popular, was introduced into the UK the following year.

It’s sometimes known as the Dancing Man ad and is the first that I can actually remember, largely due to the soundtrack of ‘Guaglione‘ by the Cuban mambo bandleader Perez Prado. His music would be used again in 2000’s Bet on Black, and the notion of waiting for the pint to be poured became the centerpiece of the ‘Good Things Come to Those who Wait’ ads.

The second major Ogilvy TV campaign was the Black and White series, sometimes known as the ‘Not everything in black and white makes sense’ ads, running from 1996 to 1998.

Once again we find Guinness targeting the 18-34 year old male demographic, those who knew and liked the Guinness advertising but wouldn’t normally drink the actual product, preferring lager.

The ads follow a similar structure: all are in black and white, feature a quotation, and try to play with the viewer’s preconceptions – just as the ads want you to reconsider your preconceived view of Guinness if you wouldn’t normally touch the stuff.

So we have an old man marrying a much younger, pregnant woman with Pete Townsend’s line ‘I hope I die before I get old’. Women work down mines, arm-wrestle, drive trucks and need men the way a fish needs a bicycle.

And in 1997’s Statistics we hear a series of stats on the average amount of wind a cow creates, the number of clowns who never fall in love, strippers who are convent educated, and that men think of sex every six seconds, before the Vic Reeves line ’88.2% of statistics are made up on the spot’.

After one year of the campaign Guinness announced they had achieved their highest ever total share of the UK beer market, at 5.2 per cent. Fast forward another twelve months, though, and Ogilvy and Mather had lost the account.

The problem came with an ad with the Diana Dors quotation ‘Men and women shouldn’t live together’ and apparently featuring two gay men. It sparked controversy that Guinness could have done without. So they ditched Ogilvy and Mather soon after.