Friday, 8 December 2006

THINK WHAT TOUCAN DO

Having once written a book about Guinness and its extraordinary advertising legacy, I am well aware that, during its long and distinguished lifetime, the great Irish beverage has produced not only some of the most memorable, stylish, funny and endearing adverts in the annals of commercial art, but that they have been at the forefront of skilful product placement - finding ways of marketing Guinness' creamy bitterness to a wide range of potential drinkers.

However, unlike other contemporary companies, they have fought shy of specifically targeting the drinker with a pink pound in his or her pocket...

In fact, when in 1995, they produced the television advert (below), featuring a gay couple, feared opposition from straighter-laced stout-drinkers resulted in its being pulled.



Personally, I think the jury's still out on whether this commercial was challenging or reinforcing homosexual stereotyping...

Anyway, a decade later, it seems as if attitudes at Guinness are possibly being relaxed. Certainly a new poster suggests that the Guinness Toucan has finally fluttered out of the closet and will, very probably, soon be behaving like a true squawking queen!

8 comments:

Scrooge said...

Probably more of a light-hearted gay stereotyping joke than an actual attempt to capture the Pink Pound, I suspect ! You featured some genuine attempts earlier on in your blog. I suspect they're the way forward.Good fun though.

Brian Sibley said...

If it was just "a light-hearted gay stereotyping joke" dreamed up by the ad-men then maybe that is why Guinness decided not to run it...

By the time this ad was being filmed, Guinness was no longer just producing fun advertising (featuring amusing zoo animals and parodies of 'Alice in Wonderland' and Gilbert and Sullivan operas) but was targetting very specific potential buyers (including younger, trendy city types and specifically women) so this would, undoubtedly, have been an attempt to say - at least subliminally - things aren't always the way you expect them to be and (by implication) there's no reason why gays shouldn't try a big, strong macho drink like Guinness...

What is interesting is that in the film they drink coffee --- or maybe, like Boy George, simply prefer a nice cup of tea!! ;-)

Suzanne said...

And I always thought Guinness was for breast-feeding women! That's what all my friends tried to get me to drink after my girls were born. Never tempted me, but luckily I never needed it...

Brian Sibley said...

You're quite right, Suzanne. There WAS a campaign - run in magazines for women and nurses and endorsed by doctors! - that promoted Guinness as being an aid for lactating women. Like the long-running "Guinness is Good for You" (stout as tonic) campaign, that particular marketing approach was eventually abandoned when advertising standards made such claims impossible to use...

However, in some African countries - even into the fifties - Guinness were promoting the "good for you" angle with a regional twist by endorsing the then-common superstitious belief that bathing a new-born baby in Guinness would help the child grow up strong...

Scrooge said...

In 1986, when our children were born, the doctor prescribed Guinness to Hazel as a way of building up her iron levels after the birth. Unfortunately, the supplies purchased for that purpose were quickly consumed by myself and the window cleaner whilst 'wetting the babies head'

Brian Sibley said...

MEN!! I ask you!!!

Diva of Deception said...

Fascinated to hear that you wrote about Guiness.

One of my earliest memories (unaided by prompts from other people remembering it) was the Guiness clock in Clacton. We went there for a holiday and I remember nagging to go and see the clock every day - it's mechanics fascinated me although I can no longer remember what it did. I know that my fifth birthday was spent touring Devon and we were in Salisbury on the actual day; holidays after that were in Cliftonville until I was eight as my brother had arrived by then. So the Guiness clock entertained me when I was either two or three!

Brian Sibley said...

The Guinness Clock (which debuted at the Festival of Britain in 1951) toured many seaside resorts through the late '50s and into the early '60s...

I remember running along the prom at Margate several times a day to see it "perform"...

I was planning to write a blog about it one day - and still will if I can find enough pictures for those too young to know what we're talking about!

Therefore forgive me if I don't go into the details of what the clock DID for the moment other than to remind you that the final effect was of toucans running round a tree hung with Guinness Time watches...

Anyway, more when I have time... :-)