Monday, August 16, 2010

You Want To Mix Guinness With What?!?

First off, I am a fan of Guinness - always have been.  It is a beer that defines a style and and deserves the respect it has earned.  However, what I don't like about Guinness is that in its quest to be a major global brand, its advertising has taken the path of stupifying and shock-type marketing (think Budweiser and other macro-American lagers).

An exemplary account of this was a public relations campaign undertaken in England earlier this year.  Teaming up with Ugo Monye, a star player on the English rugby team, Guinness planned to launch an aftershave/fragrance that combines Guinness with the "essence" of the rugby game.  "I wanted to create an aftershave that truly captures the unique smells of rugby" is how Monye described the project.  "Not only will wearing the fragrance remind you of playing rugby it will also give you that rough and ready odour for a manly edge."  The product, said to be offered in a glass bottle in the shape of Monye's body, combines scents such as sweat, deep heat, mud, and of course, Guinness Stout.

To make it worse, Guinness made plans to distribute free samples of the "project" to rubgy fans at the Guinness Premiership Finals.  "Fans...will be able to watch top class rugby while feeling like they are in the thick of the action with Uyo's unique fragrance" said Guinness's sponsorship manager.


To the relief of all beer fans and those of common sense, the whole campaign turned out to be a big April Fool's joke put on by a public firm for Diageo (Guinness's owner).  Just another gonzo marketing scheme to grab attention.  But the best part of many of these "they're dumb enough to believe this"-type capmpaign are that they sometimes spread just as much confusion as they do product branding.  For instance, even now, four to five months after the hoax was initially announced, beer news sources are reporting on Guinness's launch of their Eau d'Rugby, such as the small piece in this month's (September) All About Beer magazine.

While I'll continue to be a fan of Guinness beer, its this type of branding and advertising that draws out an internal conflict in me.  Should we judge or hold prejudice against a product itself just because of bad, grind-your-teeth marketing used to promote it?  Should Arthur Guinness's recipe be faulted because of some hot-shot public relations executive has a cutzie idea?

Let us know your thoughts.



"Give an Irishman lager for a month and he's a dead man. An Irishman's stomach is lined with copper, and the beer corrodes it. But whiskey polishes the copper and is the saving of him."
-Mark Twain

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