Guinness is one of the world's best-known brands, and a key pillar of Diageo's global drinks portfolio, though also something of an anomaly there as the group's only significant beer. Guinness's global reputation is arguably much bigger than its sales would suggest. Something of an acquired taste, the stout trails higher-selling international lagers such as Heineken or Budweiser. Volumes of approximately 8.5m hectolitres in 2019 are a third of Heineken's total. However, Guinness's distinctive black-and-white branding and the striking, often surreal advertising created for the brand between the late 1980s and early 2000s is recognized worldwide. In fact, Guinness has been known for the creativity of its advertising for almost a century, especially in the UK, where the brand was first made famous in the 1920s with the long-running and enormously popular "Guinness Is Good For You" poster campaign. More recently, TV commercials such as "Waiting Man", "noitulovE" ("Evolution" reversed) and especially "Surfer" still regularly feature among surveys of the country's best-loved ads. The brand also has a long-standing association with world rugby. It is currently global sponsor of that sport's Six Nations Title Championship. Guinness is available in several variants. In Nigeria and Cameroon - which are among the brand's five biggest international territories - as well as other African countries the main Guinness Draught stout is accompanied by higher-alcohol Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and non-alcoholic Malta Guinness. In the US and other markets, Diageo has trialled several unusual variants including Guinness Blonde American Lager, Guinness Nitro IPA and luxury Guinness The 1759. In the UK and Ireland, it enjoyed modest success with Guinness Hop House 13 lager (until 2021 when that brand will be discontinued) as well as higher-priced limited editions including Guinness Dublin Porter. Perhaps its most unconventional variant was Guinness Clear, launched in 2019 to light-heartedly encourage responsible drinking: "Guinness Clear" was in fact not beer at all but pure water. A real non-alcoholic version of Guinness finally arrived in the UK in 2020: Guinness 0.0, in which the alcohol is removed from the finished beer through a cold filtration process. Mark Sandys is global head of beer at Diageo (and also of Baileys and Smirnoff). Grainne Wafer is global brand director for Guinness. Arthur Guinness first established a brewery in Dublin in 1759 to produce various different ales. The most popular of these was his Extra Superior Porter stout, from which the current beer is descended.
Capsule checked 6th October 2020
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Historical profile information for Guinness
Adbrands Daily Update 13th May: "Welcome Back". It's easy to forget that there was a time back in the late 90s and early 00s when the release of a new Guinness ad from AMV BBDO was an event in itself. From 'Anticipation' (1995) through 'Surfer' (1999) and others until 'NoitulovE' (2005), classics every one. All riffed on the same underlying concept, which was inspired by the need to let a freshly poured pint of Guinness settle so that all the foam rises to its top: "Good things come to those who wait". Some of the creativity evaporated from the account after 'NoitulovE', and it's hard to recall a Guinness ad since that demonstrated the same wit and imagination. 'Sapeurs' was perhaps the most memorable, but its delights were not created by an agency, merely reflected documentary-style. But, as they say, good things come to those who wait, and the easing of UK lockdown offers AMV BBDO the perfect opportunity to add a new... well, perhaps, not a bona fide classic, but certainly the strongest new Guinness ad for years. It took considerable ingenuity to winkle out all these echoes of a perfect pint from our everyday surroundings; some are so absurd they will elicit a well-deserved chuckle. Welcome back, indeed.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Aug 2018: Ads of the Week: "Liquid Tumble". It's been quite some time since AMV BBDO last unleashed a burst of pure creativity on behalf of its long-held Guinness account. 'Surfer', incredibly, was 20 years ago, and 'noitulovE' well over a decade ago. More recently, the brand has seemed to struggle to find its image, experimenting with various different ideas and approaches without lasting success. This luscious explosion of three-dimensional modern dance plugs a gap of sorts, even if it bears some similarity to past such spots for Guinness (also from AMV BBDO) and from BBH for Diageo stablemate Baileys.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Sep 2017: Ads of the Week "Compton Cowboys". AMV BBDO's very belated follow-up to its Congolese Sapeurs campaign for Guinness is this striking and intriguing short documentary featuring the real-life cowboys of LA's Compton ghetto. It's not at all what you might have expected from a Guinness ad, and certainly all the better for that. But we're not sure how entirely truthful it is: the Compton Cowboys are certainly real, but we'd be a little surprised if they are indeed connoisseurs of Irish Stout, as the final scenes appear to suggest.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st Aug 2017: Diageo has appointed AB InBev as the distributor of its Guinness brand in China, reigniting speculation that the spirits group might be open to persuasion to surrender what remains of its beer portfolio in the near future. That move has been anticipated by observers for several years. Guinness is Diageo's only international beer, sitting alongside a comparatively small portfolio of brands in Africa, where AB InBev now has a significant presence following its recent purchase of SABMiller.
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Oct 2014: " It's Guinness, Jim, but not as we know it." Diageo unveiled a bold plan to boost the profile of its Guinness brand in the US with a series of luxury-priced limited editions, adopting the same sort of approach it already uses for high-end spirits. It has already expanded the Guinness portfolio with the launch of Guinness Black Lager in 2011 and this year's Guinness Blonde Lager, which looks exactly like any other sort of traditional lager. Its newest and boldest plan is the unveiling of Guinness The 1759, a high-strength high-price brew, that will be the first of a series of commemorative beers released each year under the Guinness Signature Series. The new 9% abv launch is an amber ale brewed with a blend of beer malt and peated whisky malt, and will be sold not in traditional "pint" servings but as a 75cl bottle like wine, with a price tag of $35.
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