Beer In Ads #1373: Getting Outside A Guinness With R.L.S.


Thursday’s ad is for Guinness, from 1955. The ad features Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who was born today in 1850. R.L.S. — as he’s referred to in the tagline — was the author of “Treasure Island,” the “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” and many others. According to the ad, which ran in the Illustrated London News, Stevenson was aboard a cruise ship in the South Pacific in 1893, when he wrote a letter to a person named Colvin, a portion of which was also part of the ad copy:

Fanny ate a whole fowl for breakfast, to say nothing of a tower of hot cakes. Belle and I floored another hen betwixt the pair of us, and I shall no sooner be done with the present amanuensing racket than I shall put myself outside a pint of Guinness. If you think this looks like dying of consumption in Apia, I can only say I differ from you.

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Beer In Ads #1025: A Guinness Guide To Sole


Thursday’s ad is another one for Guinness, also from 1957, and was designed to look more like content than an ad. Instead, it’s “A Guinness Guide to Sole on the Menu,” with the flatfish in the photo. Really, with the French Fries as a side dish, it’s really more of an upscale fish and chips. Again, my kind of meal, apart from the fish.

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Beer In Ads #658: Guinness Guide To Guinness


Wednesday’s ad is for Guinness, from 1951. In the “Guinness Guide,” it includes three mixed drink with Guinness (Black Velvet, Half & Half, Guinness and Rum), four different serving temperature suggestions (regular, mulled, chilled, and cooler) and one historical tidbit that makes no sense. It’s about a calvary officer who was wounded at Waterloo and drank Guinness while he was recovering. I’m not sure what that adds to the average person’s enjoyment?

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Diageo’s Anti-Competitive Bullying Tactics Revealed

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Wow! Just wow. Anyone paying attention knows that the corporate world doesn’t like to play fair if they can get away with it, and they usually can. They bigger they are, the more resources they command, the easier it is to bully, cajole and generally get their way. It gives them an unfair advantage, of course, but that’s the way of the world, from the playground bully to the largest multi-national. Obviously, that behavior is not restricted to the alcohol industry, but since that’s the world I’m most familiar with, that’s where I see it the most. From free t-shirts, tickets to the 49ers and even free kegs, it’s been an underlying current in the beer business for at least the twenty years I’ve been paying attention to it, and undoubtedly far longer. It’s one of those things that everybody knows about but few people talk about openly. But this one is pretty hard to ignore.

This past weekend, while much of the beer world was listening to the World Beer Cup awards being announced, over the pond in Glasgow, Scotland, another award show was taking place. This one was the 2012 British Institute of Innkeeping Scotland Annual Awards, which celebrates “success in the license [pub] trade in Scotland.” BrewDog, whose pubs have been making quite a splash, were up for the “Bar Operator of the Year” award. When it came time for the announcement, the award went to another company. But one of the BII judges was seated at the BrewDog table and cried foul. According to BrewDog’s blog, the surprised judge said “this simply cannot be, the independent judging panel voted for BrewDog as clear winners of the award.” When the alternate winner went up on stage to accept the award, they found that “BrewDog” had already been engraved on the award and refused to accept it.

Yesterday, BrewDog received a call from the BII explaining where and how things went awry:

We are all ashamed and embarrassed about what happened. The awards have to be an independent process and BrewDog were the clear winner.

Diageo (the main sponsor) approached us at the start of the meal and said under no circumstances could the award be given to BrewDog. They said if this happened they would pull their sponsorship from all future BII events and their representatives would not present any of the awards on the evening.

We were as gobsmacked as you by Diageo’s behaviour. We made the wrong decision under extreme pressure. We were blackmailed and bullied by Diageo. We should have stuck to our guns and gave the award to BrewDog.

Wow, right? I give credit to the BII for at least admitting what happened and taking whatever consequences will likely come their way. Diageo, on the other hand, is claiming it was a “rogue agent,” an employee who went too far. The makers of Guinness released this statement today:

Diageo has provided the following statement in response to communications from independent brewer, BrewDog, in relation to the British Institute of Innkeeping Scottish Awards on Sunday 6 May 2012.

A Diageo spokesperson: “There was a serious misjudgement by Diageo staff at the awards dinner on Sunday evening in relation to the Bar Operator of the Year Award, which does not reflect in any way Diageo’s corporate values and behaviour.

We would like to apologise unreservedly to BrewDog and to the British Institute of Innkeeping for this error of judgement and we will be contacting both organisations imminently to express our regret for this unfortunate incident.”

So somebody probably had to fall on their sword and be the patsy for what is more likely business as usual. Pete Brown asked Diageo for a statement, and they responded with the same one that now appears on their website. Pete also added the following:

I’ve got more to say about the increasingly shameless bullying and anticompetitive tactics employed by some (but not all) big brewers, but this one really takes the biscuit. Diageo, having been caught red handed, had no option but to blame it on a rogue element, and we must take them at their word. But does this reveal something deeper about the attitudes of some global brewing corporations?

Since he’s closer to the British (and Scottish) beer business than I am, it will be interesting to hear his take on things in the near future as he promised to expound on this incident and talk about the larger issue of institutionalized influence by the global beer companies. But still, I can’t help but shake my head and just keep repeating, “wow.”

Guinness Ad #116: Welcome In The Home

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Our 116th Guinness ad shows the intrepid zookeeper in his home surrounded by eight of his zoo animals, as if they live there when the zoo is closed. The seal is serving the zookeeper a Guinness on a tray as he relaxes on a comfy chair, legs up on a turtle. The tagline, “Guinness is welcome in the home” must have been advertising bottled product for sale.

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Guinness Ad #115: Bear Up A Pole

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Our 115th Guinness ad is a variation on an earlier zoo ad. This one is vertical, and omits some of the detail of the horizontal original, showing just the bear, who’s climbed up a pole with the zookeeper’s Guinness so he can drink it undisturbed. I love he look on his face, which seems to be saying, “forget it bub, you’re not getting this back.” The hapless zookeeper waves his lunch trying to persuade the bear to give up his beer, but I don’t think he’s going to get back his Guinness. The ad originally ran full-page in the Illustrated London Times in November of 1944.

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