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Guinness gets it: Distinctiveness sells beer

Guinness – the beer synonymous with St Patrick’s day – certainly is ‘Made of More’, as its advertising is marked by its distinctiveness and its effective delivery.

Just a few years ago, Guinness ran their “wheelchair ad” to much critical acclaim. Or, perhaps we should say, “to much critical acclaim from people who know little about beer advertising.”

​To this day, the ad has amassed over 5 million views on YouTube, and that’s offered as a key proof of how good the ad was. But as important as “liking” and “views” may be to entertainment offerings, they are badly flawed measures of advertising effectiveness.

​Or as we have put it before, “Buzz ain’t biz.”

If you were counting, the notion of “beer” isn’t featured in this ad until more than 50 seconds into its 60-second length. And the brand name makes only a brief appearance after that. Touching as this short film is, it is not worth much of anything as beer advertising. It is, essentially, entertainment. Five-million views of what might as well have been a public-service or charity ad, do little to make anyone thirsty for this Irish beer.

​Apparently that insight has dawned on the good brewers behind St. James Gate.

The Guinness “Made of More” slogan, slapped inexplicably onto the wheelchair ad, comes to life here. Guinness is distinguished by “more”… the commitment that it takes to roast their own barley every day, the history that has third-generation employees at work in the brewery, the long view that signed a 9,000 year lease on the brewery 256 years ago.

These distinctive properties of the beer and the brewer tell you Guinness is probably different from whatever you’re drinking. And that’s what effective beer advertising does: It gives you product-based reasons to consider switching to the advertised brand. And at the same time delights those who already drink it.

A Happy St. Patrick’s Day

This year’s Guinness St. Patrick’s Day ad continues to separate the brand from its competition, even as it presents a strong responsible-drinking message. Using its distinctive Ireland home, captured in the voices (and brogue) of the young men and women who make the beer, Guinness encourages drinkers to “drink like a brewer” and “respect the beer.”

Well done, Guinness people! Distinctiveness… distinctively delivered.

And, “Sláinte!”

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