The Guinness ad on the left first turned up in 1935. According to the Guinness Storehouse, several members of the public wrote to Guinness to point out what they saw as a flaw in the poster’s design. The glass would be stuck the other way if the ostrich had been trying to drink the beer. John Gilroy, the artist responsible for the “My Goodness My Guinness” advertisements, responded by stating that the ostrich had been trying to copy the act of one of his earlier advertisements, a sea lion balancing a glass on its nose, when it slipped. Whether intentional or not, this was one of the first times that Guinness’ content resulted in an engagement with their potential customers outside of a product review.
Many beer ads attempt to be humorous, sexy, or some combination of the two. Guinness had (mostly) kept itself on the humorous side with ads such as “6-Pack.” In 2013 Guinness released a commercial that attempted to change the game. I can’t say with absolute certainty that Guinness was the first large-scale beer to buck that trend, but when they did it certainly grabbed my attention.
This commercial garnered massive attention for Guinness. Business Insider, USA Today, Daily Mail, AdWeek, Visible Measures, and Huffington Post all featured the ad on their websites. Where as some people shared the ad directly from YouTube many others found the ad through these sources.
Guinness didn’t stop with one emotionally powerful ad. Released in July 2014, Empty Chair had over 3.8K views at the time of this post.
The wheelchair basketball commercial received views from a combination of interruptive marketing (being featured on the YouTube homepage) and people intentionally searching for the commercial. With the latter Guinness started making themselves something similar to, but not quite, inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is content that a viewer wants to see rather than content that is trying to interrupt the viewer and get them to do stop and do something.
Guinness’ online presence is notable. As of 9:41 AM (PST) on April 15th, 2015 the GuinnessUS’s Facebook page had 4,957,518 likes while the GuinnessUS’s Twitter Account had 191 Tweets and 6,657 followers. Keep in mind that these are just GuinnessUS. Guinness, being an Irish beer, has a GuinnessIreland Twitter Account that has 49.8K followers. Guinness also has a YouTube page with 5,606 subscribers and over 40 videos with month or two between video release dates. These subscribers and followers have decided that they want to receive the content that Guinness is putting out. When they decide to share that content, that means your viewers and customers are now acting as promoters.
Guinness is by no means a perfect example of successful inbound marketing strategies. In order to garner attention Guinness released a QR Code Campaign back in 2012. The code was printed on the glass and only able to be read when a dark liquid, namely Guinness, fills the glass. You would then use this code to share a picture of you enjoying a Guinness. While the campaign did get the attention of some, those glasses seem to have run their course.
Guinness has not just limited itself to YouTube videos. Guinness Gives Back aims to collect donations from Guinness followers to give to groups and individuals that are “Made of More.” The current slogan is meant to be vague. It’s a fill in the blank of sorts which allows the potential customer to decide whether or not they’re made of more and, if not, if they want to be by drinking Guinness.
Here’s something that might surprise you. I don’t drink beer, and yet here I am contributing to Guinness’ marketing.
But is it truly inbound marketing? If we limit inbound marketing to moments where Guinness collects the information of its customers and potential customers the answer is not really. It has succeeded in putting out content which people enjoy viewing, sharing, and writing about, but that content is published on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Email and mailing addresses are rarely collected except by online transactions with the Guinness Webstore.
Guinness has reached a point where the content being created by others is a bit more than a blog post. National Geographic made an documentary about Guinness and Conan O’Brien visited the Dublin Brewery.
I knew I took a bit of a risk picking any company that wasn’t HubSpot to talk about inbound marketing. There are companies who are utilizing inbound marketing but are not very good at it and there are companies who once used it but have since stopped. For Guinness, they had their triumphs, but they’re failing to take full advantage of the benefits that inbound marketing has to offer.