Guinness St Patrick's Day Ad

17 March 2014

BRILLIANT! What We Can Learn About Marketing From A Guinness Ad

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Beer Commercial Connoisseur…

‘Tis St. Patrick’s day, so what better way for a marketing blogger to celebrate than to write while totally drunk share a classic Guinness commercial:

Beyond entertaining, that video also hits all 3B’s of my marketing promo framework:

  • Brand: It makes the Guinness brand distinctive, likeable, and memorable.
  • Buzz: Millions of views on YouTube alone.
  • Behavior: The ad includes the call to action “Round up your mates for a Guinness” (positive), but doesn’t include a link to a website (negative), yet it compelled me to drink a Guinness in gratitude (sales = ultra-positive).

As another Guinness campaign used to say…


Classic Guinness Ad

Beyond all that, the commercial presents what real competition looks like…

Our Competitors Aren’t Who We Think They Are

When asked to evaluate their competitors, most marketers think of direct competitors: similar companies selling nearly identical products or services to the same customers. But in many cases, the real competition consists of completely different activities that target customers would rather do than buy from us.

So in this Guinness commercial, the competition depicted is not another pub, which might be in the next village far over the hill, so we never have to worry about it. The real competition is watching TV on the couch at home (which is the biggest competitor to everything in the United States), dining in an Indian restaurant, watching dancing girls, or taking an important phone call. Those alternative activities all place strong, enticing demands on the time and attention of our target customers. Unfortunately, most marketers don’t have sheep dogs to keep customers from straying.

We 21st century marketers face the same problem, but the competition for time and attention is infinitely more intense.

For a business blog (like this one), the real competition isn’t another business blog. It’s videos on YouTube, shopping on Amazon, chats with friends on Facebook, and don’t forget the dancing girls. They’re always stealing our customers — damn them! All those temptations wait just a few clicks away.

I face that challenge while teaching. My competition isn’t another class at another school, since I have a captive audience. Or at least I should. But even if my students are physically present, if my lecture fails to engage their young minds, they’ll wander elsewhere. I have to engage and inform, or at least show more Guinness commercials.

So if we want our target customers to spend their precious time with us — and for many people time is more valuable than money — then we must offer clear benefits and rewards and even entertainment value. We need to fight to win their attention, entice them off their couches, and keep them engaged.

That’s why creativity is critical in marketing, particularly online. If we merely talk about products in a witless, conservative manner, we’ll lose our customers. That would be like inviting our friends to attend a business sales pitch instead of going to the pub. Who would join us?

Now if we’re smart, guess where we’d hold our sales pitch, and how we’d do it so we won’t get ignored or even thrown out? Hint: rounds of Guinness on us with ads on the pint glasses and on the coasters. And maybe some dancing girls. Hey, if you can’t beat them…

Cheers, mates!

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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