It has been said that Guinness uses the harp of Brian Boru as its trademark. However there are differences between the logo and the Brian Boru harp. This harp, dating from the 14th or 15th century, which is on view at Trinity College, Dublin, has been a symbol of Ireland since the reign of Henry VIII (16th century). Guinness adopted the harp as a logo in 1862; however, it faces right instead of left, and so can be distinguished from the Irish coat of arms.
Guinness has a long history of marketing campaigns, from award-winning television advertisements to beer mats and posters.
Guinness's iconic stature is partly due to its advertising. The most notable and recognisable series of adverts was created by Benson's advertising, primarily drawn by the artist John Gilroy, in the 1930s and '40s. Benson created posters that included phrases such as "Guinness for Strength", "Lovely Day for a Guinness", "Guinness Makes You Strong," "My Goodness My Guinness," (or, alternatively, "My Goodness, My Christmas, It's Guinness!") and most famously, "Guinness is Good For You". The posters featured Gilroy's distinctive artwork and more often than not featured animals such as a kangaroo, ostrich, seal, lion and notably a toucan, which has become as much a symbol of Guinness as the harp. (An advertisement from the 1940s ran with the following jingle: "Toucans in their nests agree/Guinness is good for you/Try some today and see/What one or toucan do.") Dorothy L. Sayers and Bobby Bevan copywriters at Benson's also worked on the campaign; a biography of Sayers notes that she created a sketch of the toucan and wrote several of the adverts in question. Guinness advertising paraphernalia, notably the pastiche booklets illustrated by Ronald Ferns, attract high prices on the collectible market.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s in the UK there was a multi-award-winning series of "darkly" humorous adverts, featuring actor Rutger Hauer, with the theme "Pure Genius", extolling its qualities in brewing and target market.
The 1994–1995 Anticipation campaign, featuring actor Joe McKinney dancing to "Guaglione" by Perez Prado while his pint settled, became a legend in Ireland and put the song to number one in the charts for several weeks. The advertisement was also popular in the UK where the song reached number two.
In 2000, Guinness's 1999 advertisement Surfer was named the best television commercial of all time in a UK poll conducted by The Sunday Times and Channel 4. This advertisement is inspired by the famous 1980s Guinness TV and cinema ad, "Big Wave", centred on a surfer riding a wave while a bikini-clad sun bather takes photographs. The 1980s advertisement not only remained a popular iconic image in its own right but also entered the Irish cultural memory through inspiring a well known line in Christy Moore's 1985 song "Delirium Tremens". Surfer was produced by the advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO; the advertisement can be downloaded from their website.
Guinness won the 2001 Clio Award as the Advertiser of the Year, citing the work of five separate ad agencies around the world.
In 2003 the Guinness TV campaign featuring Tom Crean won the gold Shark Award at the International Advertising Festival of Ireland, while in 2005 their Irish Christmas campaign took a silver Shark. This TV ad has been run every Christmas since 2003 and features pictures of snow falling in places around Ireland, evoking the James Joyce story The Dead, finishing at St. James's Gate Brewery with the line "Even at the home of the black stuff they dream of a white one".
Their UK commercial noitulovE, first broadcast in October 2005, was the most-awarded commercial worldwide in 2006 In it, three men drink a pint of Guinness, then begin to both walk and evolve backward. Their 'reverse evolution' passes through an ancient homo sapiens, a monkey, a flying lemur, a pangolin, an ichthyosaur and a velociraptor until finally settling on a mud skipper drinking dirty water, which then expresses its disgust at the taste of the stuff, followed by the line "Good Things Come To Those Who Wait". The official name of the ad is "Noitulove"—which is "Evolution" backwards. This was later modified to have a different endings to advertise Guinness Extra Cold, often shown as "break bumpers" at the beginning and end of commercial breaks. The second endings show either the homo sapiens being suddenly frozen in a block of ice, the ichthyasaurs being frozen whilst swimming, or the pool of muddy water freezing over as the mud skipper takes a sip, freezing his tongue to the surface.
Guinness's 2007 advert, directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and filmed in Argentina is titled "Tipping Point". It involves a large-scale domino chain-reaction and, with a budget of £10m, is the most expensive advertisement for the company so far.
And in 2009, the "To Arthur" advert, which started with two friends realising the long history, hail each other by lifting up their glass and saying "to Arthur!". The hailing slowing spread throughout the bar itself to the streets outside, which accuminates to around the world. The advert end with the voiceover, "Join the worldwide celebration, of a man named Arthur"
The latest advert is a discordic musical inside the pint, with the new slogan "17:59, it's Guinness time".
The event is now known as Guinness Arthur's Day. "Arthur's Day is a series of events and celebrations taking place around the world to celebrate the life and legacy of Arthur Guinness and the much-loved Guinness® beer which Arthur brought to the world." It took place for the second time at 17.59pm on September 23rd 2010.
Sales of Guinness in Ireland and Britain declined 7% in 2006.
Guinness has a significant share of the African beer market, where Guinness has been sold since 1827. About 40% of worldwide total Guinness volume is brewed and sold in Africa, with Foreign Extra Stout the most popular variant. The Michael Power advertising campaign was a critical success for Guinness in Africa, running for nearly a decade before being replaced in 2006 with "Guinness Greatness".
Guinness Stout is brewed under licence internationally in several countries, including Nigeria, the Bahamas, Canada, and Indonesia. The unfermented but hopped Guinness wort extract is shipped from Dublin and blended with beer brewed locally.
During Saint Patrick's Day outside Ireland, Guinness merchandise is available in many places that sell the drink. Merchandise includes clothing and hats, often available from behind the bar after a specified number of pints of Guinness have been purchased. In addition it is possible to purchase branded merchandise online at the Guinness Webstore.
There is a popular tourist attraction for Guinness at St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, called the Guinness Storehouse, where a self-guided tour of the attraction starts with an overview of the ingredients used to make Guinness followed by a step-by-step description of how Guinness is made. After this a pint of Guinness is offered inclusive of the tour price, which you may pour yourself at one of the bars after a short demonstration by one of the staff. This entitles the 'initiate' to a certificate. There are videos showing, among other production stages, how Guinness is regularly tested by a panel of tasters and the visitor is shown how to properly taste Guinness. The rest of the tour includes many things such as the coopering trade within Guinness many years ago, a section dedicated to the advertising and merchandising efforts of Guinness over the years, and a section dedicated to historical artifacts and footage relating to Guinness. The tour finishes with a free pint of Guinness (if it has not already been availed of at one of the other bars) at the top of the 7 story high building in the Gravity Bar, the highest bar in Dublin. There the pint may be enjoyed with a 360-degree view of the city. Two other bars and a restaurant are available to visitors during the tour and a full selection of Guinness merchandise is available to purchase.