Guinness Stout

By Published on .

Guinness Stout is flowing out of stodgy wood-paneled bars and into the mainstream. Pulling the tap is James Thompson, VP-marketing for Guinness Bass Import Co.

When Mr. Thompson took over U.S. marketing in January 1999, the dark gooey beer had been a marketing success story for years.

Then things really picked up. Sales were up 10% in 1999 over '98. The previous year had seen a respectable increase of 3% over '97.

Fueling the jump, in part, was advertising that told drinkers Guinness isn't just for St. Paddy's Day anymore. In addition, Mr. Thompson oversaw efforts to tweak "The perfect pint" campaign, created by longtime agency Weiss Stagliano Partners, New York. Enter "Guinness refreshes your spirit."

Local marketing efforts were also added to promote the country's No. 6 import. In November, the national marketing department was reorganized, and additional field reps were added around the U.S.

While president of Guinness Canada from 1996 through 1998, Mr. Thompson boosted sales from 9% yearly increases to a 32% jump by initiating consumer advertising, expanding the distributor network, and helping the 241-year-old stout flow from Toronto to the rest of the country.

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