Friday, September 17, 2010

Guinness Denounced the Ad, Embraces the Notoriety

I saw a Guinness ad during a football game and went looking for it on YouTube and on the Guinness site. Couldn't find it. Nicely shot close-up from an in-the-glass perspective of beer being poured, but with a lame and taunting tagline that said something to the effect of "Maybe it's not for you." You're right, Guinness. It's not for me. And your attempt to make me feel like I'm not worthy of your beer didn't work. You're not the Marines. You're a thick beer. If I want to feel as though I've ingested a loaf of dark bread I'll just toss some pumpernickel in a blender with a couple shots of whiskey and get the same effect. But in my searching for this ad I think I may have uncovered a little bit of "wink-wink, we're so naughty" on the part of Guinness.

You may remember a couple years ago when some director released what he called a "banned Guinness ad." It was a spec piece, hoping to catch the attention of the Irish brew maker. It was during those naïve days of the late summer of '08, when the words "banned commercial" on your upload were a sure ticket to viral success, back before people realized there was no such thing as a banned commercial. It caught plenty of attention, but mostly from angry people who objected to the objectification of women. In the ad, a woman is used as a human coaster, her body gently rocking back and forth. We see only her mid-section while three separate hands reach for the bottle, presumably take a swig, then return it to her undulating form, the bottle staying balanced in the small of her back. Clearly she's supposed to be in the throes of a four-way, though she appears lifeless and limp.* Guinness and its agency were very quick to denounce the ad, saying,

Guinness is in no way associated with this video, and approached YouTube to have it removed. We are proud of our brands, and our commitment to responsible marketing, and this is not how we want our brand portrayed.

Fine. Nice job. Appropriate PR move. Nevermind that the ad is back on YouTube, with 1.5 million views this time around.

Also, nevermind that for sale at the Guinness store for $25 is the CD, "Music From the TV Ads." The cover art, with its pronounced line of beauty S-shape, bears a striking resemblance to the shape prominently featured in the "banned" spot.

I'm sure Guinness will claim this is merely the top of the harp that serves as their logo.

* Which reminds me of a joke. Use your mouse to highlight the invisible text below.

What's the difference between spaghetti and a sorority girl?
Spaghetti moves when you eat it. 

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