Guinness planned ads for Hitler’s Germany

A series of adverts for promoting Guinness during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin have come to light.

Guinness zeppelin

Guinness’ iconic toucans flying with the Nazi controlled zeppelin airline

The ads were created by Guinness’ famous poster painter John Gilroy but in the end were never used.

They were found by former brewer for the company, David Hughes, and feature many of Guinness’ most iconic characters and phrases including the smiling toucans and “My goodness! My Guinness!”

One poster has the toucans flying over the Berlin stadium draped in swastika banners while another has a smiling German soldier proffering a pint of Guinness with the slogan: “Es ist zeit für ein Guinneß” (“Time for a Guinness”).

Hughes was researching a book on Gilroy (soon to be released) when he stumbled across the forgotten canvases which are thought to be worth £1.2 million.

A great many original pieces of Gilroy artwork went missing from the SH Benson offices in the 1970s after it lost the Guinness contract in the 1960s. A lot of artwork subsequently resurfaced in the US recently.

Alongside the paintings was a note from the brewery’s advertising partner SH Benson to Gilroy which explains why the paintings were never used for a full blown campaign inside the Third Reich.

In the letter SH Benson talks of the project being a “hot potato”, with the Irish office apparently keen to “woo” an importer in Berlin while the more sceptical London office was dragging its heels.

“We must tread carefully,” the Benson office tells Gilroy, “‘Could you produce a set of drawing for the Germans?

“As always I leave it to your fertile imagination, though may I suggest you use the toucans, which seem popular at present.

“Try to make them topical, but steer clear of too much nationalist socialist tub-thumping.”

Guinness nazi

“My goodness! My Guinness!” Toucans over the Brandenburg Gate

Even though the posters were never used, Hughes explained to the Sunday Times that by 1936, despite some rising unease about Hitler as shown by the London office, the true evil of Nazism was yet to come to light and companies were still keen to do business in Germany.

The book includes many unseen adverts Gilroy created for various markets including the Soviet Union, Greece and Israel usually on similar themes to those campaigns used in the UK and Ireland but with modified characters and settings.

More posters can be seen on the following pages.

5 Responses to “Guinness planned ads for Hitler’s Germany”

  1. David Ling says:

    Thank goodness it was not written GuinneSS… Ouch !

  2. Gus Gannon says:

    Hey, that was then… this is now and here’s to a pint o’ the Black Stuff.
    Still GREAT after All these years!
    (Hindsight is great, after the event…”Guinness is Best Anytime”..
    Here’s to “Seeing in the Dark!” 😮
    Sla’inthe Bheatha!!!

  3. carlo says:

    Those “projects” are probably fakes, the poster with a german soldier is inspired by Gino Boccasile’s artwork from 1944!

  4. John Foster says:

    The notion that in 1936 “the true evil of Nazism was yet to come to light” is appallingly wide of the mark. Laws denying citizenship to Jews, restricting Jewish property rights and forbidding relationships between Jews and non-Jews had been passed by 1935, and around 40,000 people (mostly but not exclusively Jews) had already emigrated rather than face persecution at home. Hitler had re-occupied the Rhineland in breach of international treaty and around the time of the Berlin Olympics was sending war materiel to support the military coup in Spain. The true nature of Nazism should have been apparent to everyone by 1936, Guinness included.

    • Larry Gilman says:

      Right on the mark, John. There should be no room for slippery corporate-exculpatory b*llsh*t when it comes to, of all freakin’ things, Hitler’s Germany.

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