17 March 2014

BRILLIANT! What We Can Learn About Marketing From A Guinness Ad

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Beer Commercial Connoisseur…

‘Tis St. Patrick’s day, so what better way for a marketing blogger to celebrate than to write while totally drunk share a classic Guinness commercial:

As another Guinness campaign used to say…


Guinness Ad From Days Of Yore

Not only is the video fun to watch, it hits all 3B’s of my marketing promotions framework:

  • Brand: It makes the Guinness brand distinctive, likeable, and, at least for me, memorable.
  • Buzz: Millions of views on YouTube alone.
  • Behavior: The ad includes the call to action “Round up your mates for a Guinness” (positive), but doesn’t include a link to a website (negative), yet it compelled me to drink a Guinness in gratitude (sales = ultra-positive).

Beyond all that, the commercial does a BRILLIANT! job of presenting what real competition looks like…

Your Competitors Aren’t Who You Think They Are

When asked to evaluate their competitors, most marketers think of direct competitors: similar companies selling nearly identical products or services to the same customers. But in many cases, the real competition consists of completely different activities that your target customers would rather do than buy from you

So in this Guinness commercial, the competition depicted is not another pub — which might be in the next village over the hill, so we never have to worry about it. The real competition is watching TV on the couch at home (which may be the biggest competition to everything in the United States), dining in an Indian restaurant, watching dancing girls, or taking an important phone call. Those all place strong, enticing demands on the time and attention of our target customers. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have sheep dogs to keep them in line.

We 21st century marketers face the same problem, but the competition for time and attention is infinitely more intense.

For example, if we write a business blog (like this one you’re reading), the real competition isn’t another business blog. It’s videos on YouTube, shopping on Amazon, chats with friends on Facebook, and don’t forget the dancing girls. They’re always stealing our customers — damn them! All those temptations are just a few clicks away.

I face that challenge while teaching my classes. My competition isn’t another class at another school — my students have all paid to attend mine, so I should have a captive audience. But I don’t, even if they’re physically present in the classroom. If I my lecture is lackluster and doesn’t provide value, students won’t pay attention or participate. They’d rather spend their time and attention elsewhere, like catching up on their email. I have to be engaging and informative, or at least show more Guinness commercials.

So if we want our target customers to spend their time with us — and for many people time is more valuable than money — then we must offer clear benefits and rewards and even entertainment value. We need to fight to get their attention, to entice them off their couches, and to keep them engaged. That’s why being personal and even entertaining in marketing is so critical, particularly online.

Our blogs, social media, and other content are guaranteed to fail if all we do is talk about products in a boring, conservative way. That would be like inviting our friends to attend a business sales pitch instead of going to the pub. Who would join us? Now if we’re smart, guess where we’d hold our sales pitch, and how we’d do it so we won’t get ignored or even thrown out?

Hint: rounds of Guinness on us with ads on the pint glasses and on the coasters. And maybe some dancing girls. Hey, if you can’t beat them…

Cheers, mates!

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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