Guinness is synonymous with its clever, funny and innovative advertising. But for 170 years, Guinness never advertised, preferring to let its beer do the talking.
Rupert Guinness, Chairman of the Board, finally agreed to allow the brand to advertise – so long as the advertising matched the quality of the beer. The first official advertising campaign didn’t disappoint, launching in 1929 with the unforgettable slogan Guinness is Good for You in The Daily Chronicle.
S.H. Benson was chosen as the agency to represent Guinness and, such was the success of the partnership, they continued to be the Guinness agency for the next 40 years. The partnership resulted in some of the brand’s most memorable poster and television advertisements.
It was S.H. Benson that employed the artist John Gilroy – the mastermind behind the most recognisable Guinness adverts. Gilroy ran campaigns under iconic slogans such as Guinness for Strength, first appearing in 1934, and Guinness Time. A subsequent series of posters featured a distraught zookeeper and his mischievous animals – from the famous Guinness toucan to the stout-drinking ostrich — and carried the slogan My Goodness, My Guinness. Gilroy’s work inspired other artists working for Guinness, including the Guinness Time crab.
As Guinness went global, so too did its advertising. Variants of Guinness slogans were produced for international markets, including the well-known Guinness For Power as a theme in adverts in the African market.
Guinness advertising was quick to innovate with the first television advert appearing in 1955 - aired on the first night of commercial television.
The Surfer TV commercial was launched in Great Britain on St. Patrick’s Day in 1999. This commercial received numerous awards including the Gold Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in June 1999. Among other accolades, it was voted the greatest TV commercial ever in the Channel 4 television programme 'The 100 Greatest TV Ads' shown in April 2000.
Guinness advertising strives to represent diversity, from the original Christmas Card television advert launched in 2005, bringing the dream of a white Christmas to life, to the 2014 Sapeurs advert, inspired by the fashion, style and art of the Sapeurs of the Congo.
Guinness continues today to carry on the tradition that started back in 1929, producing innovative artwork to match the quality of the beer.