Friday, April 8, 2016

How Misguided Was the Guinness Marketing Department?

A few months ago, Guinness first aired a commercial for the company's Blonde American Lager. This particular beer (and its ad, which is linked above) is intended to celebrate the contributions of Irish immigrants in America.

However, Guinness might have miscalculated with one of the images used in the 30-second spot. At the 0:04 mark of the commercial, we see a famous Jacob Riis photo called "Bandit's Roost." I think that Guinness intended to highlight the tough living conditions the Irish experienced in the New York City tenements of the nineteenth century. However, as the photo's title suggests, many of the subjects in the image were bandits -- criminals and felons.

Anyways, as a way to praise Irish derring-do in the U.S., "Bandit's Roost" probably wasn't the best photo to use. I found one other mention of this poor advertising choice on the Internet, in a tweet by a radio personality named Phil Hendrie:
Yes, someone in the Guinness marketing department really screwed the pooch on this one. Here are a few hypothetical equivalents of the Guinness "Bandit's Roost" commercial:
  • Prego Pasta Sauce using a clip from The Godfather II to highlight the wonders of Little Italy in the late 1800s.
  • The Outback Steakhouse employing one of Mel Gibson's infamous rants to celebrate the restaurant's blend of Australian and American culture.
  • The Manischewitz Company showing a photo of Arnold Rothstein, the mobster who fixed the 1919 World Series, as a model of Jewish integrity in business.
Maybe Guinness was really trying to display the toughness of the Irish people in that recent ad. Next year, the company should just use the New York City Draft Riots scene from Gangs of New York to highlight that same quality.

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Follow Francis Tolan on Twitter @frantweet

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