There’s probably no product that is more synonymous with Ireland than Guinness Stout. The dark pint with the creamy head is famous throughout the world, not just for its distinctive taste, but also for its iconic status.
Part of the brand’s appeal has been its effective marketing campaign. The brewery was founded in 1759 at St. James’s Gate in Dublin. Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the property, which means there are only 8,746 years to go.
The company relied on word of mouth from satisfied customers to keep their business thriving. But in the 1930s, faced with a worldwide depression and flattening sales figures, the company turned to print advertising to boost sales.
The company engaged S.H. Benson’s advertising agency, which assigned artist John Gilroy to the account. The result was one of the most famous advertising campaigns in history, introducing taglines such as “Guinness for Strength,” “Guinness is Good For You” and “My Goodness, My Guinness.” Gilroy created a series of indelible images: a harried zookeeper, girder-toting workers and, most famously, the toucan.
As the decades went on, the company used other agencies and artists, but kept the aestheic that has delighted generations of fans.
Here, we present ten of the most famous Guinness posters from the past 80 years.
GUINNESS FOR STRENGTH / 1934
The famous Girder made its first appearance – people even started asking for a 'girder' in the pub, it was so popular.
MY GOODNESS, MY GUINNESS — SEA LION / 1935
The first of the great Gilroy ‘zoo-keeper and animal’ series. 20 years later this would inspire the first GUINNESS television commercial, too.
I FEEL LIKE A GUINNESS / 1935
The Guinness company often commissioned leading cartoonists of the day to contribute to their advertising. The sentiment expressed here leant itself to numerous situations.
GUINNESS IS GOOD FOR YOU — TOUCAN / 1935
This ad features the advertising debut of the iconic Toucan, which would be a touchstone of the brand for decades to come. Just grand.
TURNING TO GUINNESS / 1942
'Thousands are turning to Guinness for strength.' In wartime Britain, artist HM Bateman's self-referential Guiness advertising took the brand into the army.
GUINNESS FOR STRENGTH — HORSE / 1949
This ‘GUINNESS For Strength’ execution is one of our all-time classics. It won John Gilroy a standing ovation when he walked into London’s Garrick Club when the ad first appeared.
GUINNESS TIME — ARMOUR / 1956
Gilroy’s influence is loud and proud in this poster by the artist Lander – right down to the use of solid typefaces.
HARP PLAYER / 1958
Girl power – one of the few posters drawn by a female artist. Look at the detail of the hand behind the harp.
AFTER WORK / 1961
Very much of its era, the simple graphic elements of this poster combine humour and message brilliantly. Unwind with a Guiness beer.
LABEL POUR / 1989
This unusual graphical approach shows exactly what to do – take the bottle and pour it into the glass.