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250 years of genius: The evolution of Guinness advertising

For 250 years, Guinness has been been at the forefront of successful Irish branding. We take a look at how the company used advertising in print and on television to spread the word of the black stuff.

GUINNESS IS GOOD for you, or so they say. Now, whether that is true or not, one thing is without doubt: Guinness ads are always good.

In fact, some have even called them genius, so we’ve decided to take a look at the evolution of Guinness advertising over the past 250 years.

Guinness was founded in 1759 but didn’t publish its first ad until 1794, and it soon set the standard for beer advertising with witty, engaging ads that helped create arguably the best-known beer worldwide.

Let’s take a look at how Guinness ruled the airwaves before moving on to its print advertising below – don’t forget to let us know in the comments which Guinness ad is your favourite.

  • 1955: The Guinness sea lion ad was its first TV commercial. (Via GuinnessAds on Youtube)

  • 1966: The Shipyard ad saw it exploring a new angle, following its analysis of consumer consumption habits. (Via maxpower1928 on Youtube)

  • 1970: Ad agency JWT wins a Cannes Grand Prix for Black Pot.

Guinness moved its account from Benson to J Walter Thompson (JWT) in 1969. “Black Pot” helped to enforce the brand’s uniqueness compared to other beers and won the brand critical acclaim. (Via JWTMENA on Youtube)

  • 1977: Produced by Irish agency ARKS Ltd, “Island” won a Silver Cannes Lion and a CLIO in 1977.(Via Mr1965JOE on Youtube)

  • 1970s and 1980s: Here we see how the toucans featured when the brand introduced its new beer in cans. (Via Rayflute on Youtube)

  • 1995: Dancing Man – good things come to those who wait, this ad showed us. And boy, does that music get stuck in your head. (Via TheBestTVAds on Youtube)

  • 1999: Inspired by a 1981 Guinness ad of the same name, “Surfer” launched in Britain on St. Patrick’s Day. Created by AMV-BBDO, the commercial was also influenced by Walter Crane’s painting “Neptune’s Horses.”"Surfer” received a Cannes Gold Lion, two gold pencils at the Design & Art Directors Association awards, and several Clios. (Via alvindorfman on Youtube)

  • 2002: Tom Crean. This commercial tells the story of Irish Antarctic explorer Tom Crean, who was part of the Shackleton and Scott Antarctic expeditions in 1912.  (Via davidmagister on Youtube)

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  • 2003: Michael Fassbender made waves in this ad, where he settled a quarrel with a pint of Guinness. (Via Faustine68 on Youtube)

  • 2009: To celebrate the brand’s 250th anniversary, Guinness decided to create their own holiday honouring founder Arthur Guinness. Now every September 22 at 17:59 (the year of the company’s founding) drinkers around the world honour his legacy. (Via youmeeverybodytube on Youtube)

Before there was television, there was print advertising – and Guinness knew just how to grab the attention of viewers, thanks to its eye-catching images and memorable slogans.

Which one is your favourite?

250 years of genius: The evolution of Guinness advertising
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  • 1794: Guinness' first ad

  • 1862: The Guinness harp

  • 1929: Guinness is good for you

  • 1930: Guinness for strength

  • 1930s: From word of mouth to ads

  • 1935: My Goodness, My Guinness

  • 1945: Guinness ad

  • 1954: Lovely day for a Guinness

  • 1954: Guinness Book of World Records

  • 1966: Guinness creates a parody of the Bayeux Tapestry

  • 1983 A new twist on an old favorite

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