"Not - Guilty."
Guinness makes the best adverts.
Or, ok: Guinness commissions the best adverts. As big brands go, and I mean Worldwide brands, identifiable by most of the population of the planet by a trademark or logo, Guinness is untouchable in its genius for promotion. There are only a few dozen such brands in existence, and they all have the money and massive marketing departments which mean they can spend the time and resources required to create truly distinctive, memorable marketing campaigns. Some do, time and again - Adidas and Nike, Levis, Mercedes, Volkswagen, a handful of others. But Guinness always seems ahead of the game, hiring the best Directors and having the courage and vision to go for the craziest, most original concepts. Those concepts are then executed as well as you can imagine them being in the strict confines of the commercial format, because Guinness doesn't stint on Budgets. All their ads looks like mini-movies, which is their true glory. They have texture and atmosphere and beauty. They are sensual experiences, which is what you want from an advert promoting a sensual experience.
Does a short film featuring horses amidst crashing breakers make people want to drink stout? Probably not. But it does mean that if somebody is going to drink stout, yours is the one they will have heard of, the one they will regard, on some primitive, easily-manipulated level, as "the best". And thats advertising. Thats why other brands make Guinness-style adverts which feel and look like Guinness ads until the final moment when the brand is revealed.
The newest Guinness spot was directed by Johnny Green, whose exciting, distinctive work I've written about here before, and whose muscular visual sense and eye for a beautiful composition is as obvious here as it has been in all his work. Hes aided by an impressive team including cinematographer Wally Pfister, who shot Christoher Nolan's The Dark Knight, and Grant Major, who was a set designer on The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
No surprise it looks so beautiful, then:
A few of Guinness' highlights from over the years, starting with Rutger Hauer's original outing in a 1992 spot for the Company, through some that you may find irritating, beautiful and/or mildly amusing, much of it full of stage Oirishness and assorted paddywhackery wherein the Old country is absurdly romanticised (but dammit, it works):
A young Joseph Mawle as a hurler:
Tom Crean, legendary Irish explorer and probable Guinness-retailer:
"Anticipation", a small cultural phenomenon with Perez Prado's "Guaglione" as its theme:
This one was banned, and you can sort of see why, funny though it is:
Two by Jonathan Glazer, the first possibly the greatest advert ever made:
Lee Scratch Perry: