Would some of the best selling beers be as global a success if they were advertised less?

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There is no doubt that advertising is one of the most important tools that a company can use in order to push sales and to make a name for itself, but I want to look at how advertising has affected particular breweries and what life was like before advertising was used.


One brewery that I want to look at is Guinness, a brand that is recognised worldwide.

In the early days of Guinness there was no advertising used, people would find out about the product through word of mouth.  However, sales began to fall in Guinness by the 1930’s so they decided to try actively promoting the great product they had on offer.

Now most recognisably Guinness is known for its harp logo, this was always a brand logo for Guinness and was, I suppose, where the advertising began, however the place where I want to start is with advertisements that were used in the 1930s to 40s.

In this period Guinness decided to promote it’s apparent health benefits.

Slogans like “Guinness for strength” and “Guinness is Good for you” are only to name a couple, but the angle was that drinking Guinness in some way improved your health. This worked wonders and sales started to pick up rapidly.

The iconic posters designed to promote these new slogans always contained an animal of some kind, be it a kangaroo, an ostrich, or most famously a Toucan. The toucan became a huge figure of the Guinness brand and this was originally designed by Dorothy L Sayers.

The advertising of Guinness continued like this for many years up until the 1970’s and 80’s. This is when television advertising came in and for me is one of the most successful things about the Guinness brand. Their adverts are always creative and have been something that I have always loved Guinness for, not to mention the amount this continues to help with Guinness sales figures.

There have been so many Guinness adverts over the years from the anticipation campaign with Joe McKinney’s dancing to the “Dot” advert, through to the Surfer in 1999, which looks at a surfer riding some waves while he is being photographed from the shore line. This advert was highly regarded and named best TV commercial of all time.

For me one of the best Guinness adverts has to be NoitulovE (“evolution” backwards). This featured a man having a drink of Guinness and then the advert starts to run in reverse with a de-evolution going on, finishing up with a mud skipper taking a sip from some dirty water and expressing its disgust.

This was such a hit that there were spin offs done for Guinness extra cold that featured the mud skippers tongue being frozen in ice. This also brought about one of the best tag lines for Guinness in my eyes “Good things come to those who wait”. This was just a brilliant advert and made me want to go out there and buy some Guinness.

The relentless advertising campaigns of Guinness have really helped to show how successful a brand can be just by using good adverting. This is evident in the fact we now celebrate a national Guinness day “Arthurs Day” on the 22nd of September and raise a pint to Arthur at 17:59 the year that Guinness was first brewed.


Miller came up with an advertising slogan of “It’s Miller Time”.

In years past I would never have heard of Miller. It wouldn’t have been a beer that I would have thought of.

But “Miller Time” brought that mystery element and sense of community to drinking Miller. Their advert plays on the fact that everyone is to come together on a Friday Night and join in drinking a Miller and celebrate “Miller Time“.

I think this is also a very powerful advert and another example of how a beer that wasn’t that well known to me, grabbed my attention with its powerful advertising. This is a perfect example of how a company can use advertising to sell a beer.

Miller was founded in 1855 by Frederick Miller when he bought a small brewery by the name of the Plank-Road Brewery.  Over the years Miller changed hands a few times and developed many products, one of the main products being its Miller Genuine Draft.

Originally this beer was marketed as Miller High Life Genuine Draft. But this proved to be unsuccessful, so the name was changed to just Miller Genuine Draft.  The sales of Miller dropped by 51% between the years 2005 – 2010.

Until we come to the advertising of “Miller Time”, which has propelled the beer back into a recognised brand.

This to me shows just how the power of good advertising can help propel beers sales.

Small craft breweries, to me, show how beer sales could increase if the right advertising is used. The publicising of small craft breweries is essential in order for their beer sales to excel. A lot of craft beer is sold to craft beer fans and is publicised by word of mouth. If these breweries had the money that the bigger breweries have, then I really believe that beer sales of these craft beers would rise dramatically.
I believe that Guinness is a perfect example of how important an advertising campaign can be when it comes to beer sales and promoting a company. There has always been a slight taboo around advertising alcohol as you cannot be seen to be promoting people to drink, hence why the “Drink Responsibly” campaign came in, however Guinness promotes their product in such an effective manner that it is one of the most popular beers not only here in Ireland but also around the world.

The main question in this article is how much advertising needs to go into a product in order to make it successful and does a product only become successful due to its advertising?

I strongly believe that you may have the best beer in the world, but if no one knows about it then it’s not going to be a huge success until it’s advertised. The reason I have picked Guinness and Miller as examples, is to show how a brewery can go from a producer of a beer that wasn’t selling well and was being advertised by word of mouth to a worldwide company that distributes its beer globally and is a household name.

It would be great to hear from you all and your experiences of beer advertising over the years, your favourite adverts and posters.