Guinness Pours an Uplifting Message

A St. Patrick's Day Message



The nature of the Coronavirus crisis – and its impact on the public in different countries – shifts on a weekly, sometimes a daily basis. When brands manage to hit the right emotional notes with their advertising it’s often by accident, given the long lead time for the typical TV campaign.

But there’s also an opportunity for brands to be genuinely agile. Guinness’ critically acclaimed St Patrick’s Day spot offers a forward-looking feeling of hope at a deeply uncertain time. It also bears the hallmarks of an ad which was put together very quickly – lots of voiceover and found footage. We’ll never know what St Paddy’s Day campaign Guinness would have run in a world without Coronavirus. Fair to say it wouldn’t have been quite like this.

It also might not have been as emotionally powerful. Despite its sombre tone,  “A St. Patrick’s Day Message” scored very high 4-Star ratings in both the US and the UK. It also did extremely well on Brand Fluency and on Spike. That would be a good score for any beer ad at any time – it’s certainly at the top end of Guinness’ results.

Montages and voiceovers are not usually the ad strategies we’d recommend. They tend to appeal to the left-brain, and as Lemon author Orlando Wood writes in his point of view on post-Corona advertising, we’ll need right-brained creativity more than ever in the coming months and years, with lots of storytelling, between-ness, and strong characters. But at this specific point in the crisis, Guinness used the tools available very well. Of course, it helps the ad’s positive impact that Guinness used it to announce a $500,000 charitable donation. But we think the emotional impact would have landed anyhow.

It takes courage to rework a campaign on the fly for difficult times. Writing this in a locked-down UK city, with gatherings of more than two forbidden, the revelry in “A St. Patrick’s Day Message” already looks out of date. But in the moment it emerged, the ad clearly set exactly the right tone. Look after each other and hold on – this too shall pass.

System1 are running regular webinars showcasing the latest results from our ad testing database and trackers, giving a view of how advertisers react to the crisis as it unfolds. To register for the first, go here.