Tim Youngman: Guinness offers a lesson in the changing face of marketing

Guinness get involved in the conversation

Guinness get involved in the conversation - Credit: PA

A COUPLE of weeks ago I attended a conference in Dublin with many from the Irish newspaper industry.

One of the presentations from an Irish digital marketing agency called Cybercom who has a range of very well known brands as clients one being that most Irish of brands Guinness.

Guinness of course is famous for its advertising and has created some of the most iconic television campaigns over the last 20 years. From the Snail Race to the Swimmer to the multi-award winning Surfer, Guinness has made a name for pushing the boundaries of how it markets its single brand.

Guinness has constantly had to evolve its advertising and walking round the Storehouse in Dublin you can see the history of those campaigns. In the 1930s when the print ads were the classic “My Goodness, My Guinness”, advertising was simply telling individuals what a product was, why you should buy it and where you can get it from.

Those fundamentals have not changed but Guinness believes that successful brands are now marketing with people rather than to people.

Brands must realise that people are more than consumers who purchase their goods and that they are now using and creating content, rating reviews, having multiple interest streams and are members of different communities.

In doing so brands and companies must not interrupt people from what they are interested in, but somehow become what people are interested in.

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Of course that is not easy in any way shape or form and is a lot easier if you are a well loved beer than, for example, a maker of screws.

However the principle of moving from thinking about consumers just as people who buy stuff, to thinking about consumers as individual human beings, is a big mindset change for many.

Guinness also believe that companies now have to accept that consumers have changed and want to interact with each other and brands on four different types of screens. Also digital is the new operating system of the world and a modern marketers job is to understand the technology and how these channels are used to communicate with each other and brands.

To react to that Guinness has invested heavily in digital advertising and social media. Working with Cybercom they created “Insights from Inside the Ireland Camp” which is a Guinness rugby supporters Ireland community to which players delivered regular updates and value adding content. This content was then shared across multiple distribution channels including guinness.com, an iPhone app, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Cybercom, through its work with Guinness and others, have found that you may be able to speak to someone via Twitter but they are also influenced by people in other environments such as Facebook and even print and that conversation is now in a constant state of flux.

Your brand should be part of the conversation but you cannot force your way into the conversation which means that you have to spend time to understand what drives and motivates your consumers.

Conferences are very good at giving you time to think and learn from others. In this case it is clear that it helps if you are company as big as Guinness with its large marketing budget.

However many of the lessons that Guinness has learnt, not just in recent years, but across none decades of pushing the marketing envelope are applicable to all.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant