Guinness Opts for Brew Instead of Brewmasters

Brand Ditches 'Brilliant!' Boys, Puts Focus Back on Beer

By Published on .

For Guinness, it's brilliant no more.

After four years, Diageo's Guinness beer brand is killing its quirky illustrated ad campaign starring two easily impressed brewmasters who found innovations ranging from bottled Guinness to cheese heads to be "brilliant!"
Guinness Genius ad
Guinness new ad

THEN AND NOW: 'Brilliant!' brewmasters (top) and Oompa-Loompa from new work.

Diageo executives said new work will return the Irish beer brand's focus to its draft roots by emphasizing the classic cascading head that forms as it's poured, and that doing so was at least partially a reaction to rivals such as Heineken and Stella Artois, which have grown the import-draft category in recent years.

"The import draft segment is getting hot," said Dan Kleinman, director-marketing for Irish beers for Diageo-Guinness USA. "We want to remind people that we're the lighthouse for quality in the market."

That "lighthouse," as depicted in work breaking today from longtime agency Omnicom Group's BBDO, New York, is apparently populated with cream-uniformed Oompa-Loompas straight out of Willy Wonka, an army of whom are shot out of cannons into drums and cymbals in an attempt to equate the drama of a Guinness pour with that of a futuristic symphony.

Symphony of suds
The spots are far more glossy and high-concept than their "Brilliant!" predecessors, which relied more on cheap laughs and clever illustrations in a never-ending attempt to remind consumers of the genius of Guinness' off-premise formats. In one classic example, the brewmasters, while swilling Guinness in a bottle, tried on stinky Limburger cheese heads while tailgating outside Green Bay's Lambeau Field.

Cheap laughs proved pretty good for sales, as Guinness has maintained a 3.4% share of the fast-growing import market for most of this decade, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. Year to date, supermarket sales of the brand are up about 7%, according to Information Resources Inc., and total shipments are up about 5%. "They're having a pretty decent year," noted Insights Publisher Benj Steinman.

If all goes according to plan, the new campaign ought to be just as ubiquitous as the brewmasters were. According to TNS Media Intelligence, Guinness spent $19.1 million on measured media last year, mostly on cable and network TV, and Mr. Kleinman vowed "that will increase" this year.

An increase would keep Guinness in line with a general spending-growth trend among top import brands, as Heineken, Corona, Dos Equis and Beck's pour it on more heavily this year.
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