What’s going to be the success story of 1998?
Personally, I haven’t got a clue what is going to be the new success
story of 1998. But I know what isn’t: big companies chucking hundreds of
thousands of pounds at a medium that no-one uses unless they get it for
free is a waste of time. Complicated plug-ins and ’clever clever’
technology that no-one without a top-grade machine can use are a waste
of time. Letting site content be determined by the lumpen nerd hordes or
parasitic advertising people is a waste of time. Perhaps if these
sub-Homers approached this type of publishing with a degree of
enthusiasm rather than the desire to make money, they might achieve
something. But that’s not very likely is it? Uploaded is done by three
people who work on Windows 3.1 and have Netscape 2 and is the UK’s most
popular non-directory or newspaper site. See what you can do with some
chutzpah! We are great and the rest of the UK sites can suck us any
managing editor, Loaded, and editor of its Website, Uploaded
The success story for 1998 in the UK will be online transactions. With
the pace being set in the US, by next Christmas the UK shopper will be
well and truly buying online. With only 342 shopping days left until
Christmas, I can’t wait. The Gap’s outlet online could be leading the
way. Its Website is set to overtake its flagship New York store in sales
volume terms within the next few months. As far as new technologies like
digital television and set-top boxes go, I think their effect will be
minimal this year, but their arrival will set the scene for real growth
This will be a year for consolidation as well as development. It will
undoubtedly see the onset of digital television - although distribution
will most likely be limited to a niche group for some time. This will
aid the development of the Net while the issue of speed will vanish;
digital interactivity will become a way of life among a wider audience
and distribution will be possible and hassle-free through a consumer’s
television set. Ultimately, the success of digital television, the Net,
etc, will depend on four key elements - speed, cost, convenience and
content. Content will play an incredibly important role - consumers will
become more demanding in their tastes and viewing habits as the choices
available to them increase.
commercial director, Conde Nast Online
Simplicity. Throughout 1998, Websites and Net software got increasingly
bloated and ever more baffling, yet users’ requirements remained
resolutely humble. My experience is that .net readers primarily want
information from the Net, and they want it fast - sites and software
that enable them to get it will do well, those that don’t won’t.
editor, .net magazine
The Internet is already competitive, through reduced production costs,
distribution costs, and low cost per acquisition. In some industry
categories, I can see a time when their use of conventional media will
exist solely to support their Website. For marketers, the challenge is
to produce a presence of quality and apply it to all business processes.
Internet access on digital TV will, in all likelihood, be closed, not
open like the PC.
It’s the year of audience consolidation, with synchronised programming
across all media.
director, MindShare Digital
CAM # 23:01:97
Guinness: The O&M years - During its 12-year relationship with
Guinness, O&M has delivered truly memorable work. Caroline Marshall
celebrates an era of pure genius
By CAROLINE MARSHALL
Guinness and Ogilvy & Mather - once the closest of advertising
couples - are to split just after their 12th anniversary. Yet even their
very public divorce two weeks ago cannot overshadow a marriage that has,
at times, been the envy of the industry, provoking outsiders to wonder
how it produced such memorable and enigmatic work.
For Tom Bury, O&M’s chief executive and a veteran of the shop’s Guinness
team, several ingredients have contributed to this vintage stream of
alcohol ads: leading-edge consumer thinking; research used as ’an aid to
creative development, not an exam’; a passionate belief in the brand on
the agency’s part; a relentless use of varied media and a partnership
which, until recently, was strong enough to weather disagreements. ’It
could stand fights,’ says Bury. ’But perhaps we had one fight too
’Having Guinness also attracted the best people to work on the brand,’
Bury reports. ’The brand is an icon, it was our responsibility to keep
it on its pedestal.’
To those who would dismiss his words as so much spiel, Bury need only
point to a body of commercials, print work and new-media campaigns that
runs from 1985 to 1997. Here is almost 13 years of work that has defined
a company whose advertising is as much a part of the British
establishment as the pubs in which it is sold.
The ways in which this quality has been demonstrated are multifarious:
the first ’good for you’ posters in 1927, Dorothy Sayers’ Toucan poem,
HM Bateman’s war-time cartoons, J. Walter Thompson’s talking toucan and
Allen Brady & Marsh’s ’friends of the Guinnless’.
A ’best of’ reel would open with O&M’s ’natural genius’ and ’pure
genius’ spots from 1985 and 1986. The successor to ABM’s matey
’Guinnless’ campaign, which had reversed a decline in stout sales, the
work was intended to be extended to all facets of the brand, functioning
as a generic campaign, for Draught Guinness and for Extra Stout.
It fell to the then O&M team of Mark Wnek and Chris Monge to interpret a
complex brief that took the Guinness team, led by the marketing
director, Gary Luddington, three months to research and write. The brief
told agencies to visualise Guinness as an egg - with the yolk suggesting
the brewery, embodying the emotional reasons why consumers drink the
brand and the shell representing its more social values.
From this rather lofty and romantic premise, Wnek and Monge came up with
one pitch-winning word: Genius, subsequently extending it into the
memorable line, ’Guinness. Pure Genius.’
’Natural genius’, O&M’s first film, revolved around the manufacture of
the product and was full of vivid images hinting at the cycle of
The second commercial, ’pure genius’, saw Guinness taking an
uncharacteristically serious view of itself: it showed a sci-fi world
with Guinness as a regenerative force: as a glass of the drink is
knocked over and the liquid runs out, the ’life’ of a community begins
slowly to die. As the glass is slowly refilled, everything begins to
reawaken, lights come on again, animals stir and conversation is
Also from that year, the ’best of’ reel would include ’armadillo’ and
’cocktail shaker’. These ads introduced humour and presented Guinness
drinkers as the wickedly clever, but down-to-earth types they knew
themselves to be.
The reel would enter 1987 with the brand’s ever so slightly menacing new
spokesman in full view. Rutger Hauer, the Dutch actor who made his name
as a homicidal replicant in Ridley Scott’s cult movie, Bladerunner, was
to feature in 27 spots for the brand. Thanks to his and O&M’s efforts,
Guinness has a current market share by volume of 5.3 per cent, its
highest for 20 years or more. Penetration rises after the age of 22, and
by 30/31 it is the number one brand at 13.8 per cent. How did the early
’The work allows consumers to make their own judgment as to what it
means,’ said Brian Pate, when general manager of marketing. ’The ads
become easier to understand the more you are exposed to them, like an
Fast forward to 1994 and the ’chain’ commercial with its Louis Armstrong
soundtrack. The following year, O&M created a screensaver based on Arks’
’anticipation’ commercial, which showed a manic Joe McKinney dancing
around his pint as he waited for it to settle. ’Anticipation’ ran in the
UK as, ominously, O&M’s work was not ready for screening. ’When we ran
’anticipation’ we suffered from a massive attack of ’not invented here’,
but it was extremely successful,’ admits Bury.
The ’black and white’ campaign finally kicked off in 1996 with the Tony
Kaye-directed ’fishing’, ’old man’ and ’bike’. But an event the previous
year - the leaking of a script (concerning a ’gay’ storyline) from the
Guinness marketing department to the trade press - marked what Bury
calls the low point of O&M’s relationship with Guinness, with the brewer
denying the film’s existence.
The client’s confidence in its agency’s judgment cannot have been helped
by two other controversies. First, an ad ran in FHM depicting a
sado-masochistic Tory supporter hanging from a ceiling. The fact that it
contained a reference to the sexual experiment which led to the death of
the Tory MP, Stephen Milligan, suggested to many that the agency had
underestimated the sensitivities of its client, not to mention senior
Tories. ’I never noticed the oranges on the table,’ admits Bury, adding
that the ad should never have run.
But he defends a second controversial ad, which showed a two-headed fish
alongside a quote that nuclear power was safe: ’I think the reaction to
that just dignified people’s paranoia.’
O&M’s last work for Guinness was the ’statistics’ campaign: TV ads and
print work based around a set of plausible but false statistics.
Beautiful films, of course, but for Guinness, seeking yet more drinkers
from a broader, younger audience, it was a disappointment. In fact,
hindsight suggests that O&M never quite got it right on Guinness since
the ’black and white’ campaign succeeded the glory days of Rutger Hauer
and ’the man with the Guinness’.
Following Guinness’s merger last year with Grand Metropolitan to form
Diageo, senior managers have set a target for the brand of 10 per cent
of the beer market by value by 2003. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO is
therefore charged with bringing Guinness off its ’Pure Genius’ pedestal
and communicating to a broader audience that the drink ’recharges body
and soul’. It is a tough challenge, and one that necessitates winning
over even more drinkers of ales and stouts while also attracting lager
drinkers. A less individualistic approach to advertising seems
inevitable. ’There will be a drive towards the younger consumer,’ says a
spokesman for the brewer, Jeremy Probert.
History offers some comfort to O&M at this depressing time. In 1982, a
few months after Guinness left JWT for ABM (without bothering to tell
the losing agency first), JWT announced in Campaign the accounts which
it had won since the departure. Showing an empty bird-cage with an open
door and a few stray black feathers fluttering by, the ad was captioned
with a derivation of the line delivered by JWT’s talking toucan: ’Even
losing Guinness is good for you.’
And the fact that O&M has now followed in the footsteps of S. H. Benson,
JWT and ABM to join the league of the Guinnless does not mean that
brewers are to be forgotten at Canary Wharf. Far from it, according to
Bury’s comment in the internal memo which he swiftly distributed around
the agency on hearing of the loss: ’I’m somewhat stunned but also
philosophical,’ he wrote. ’Life goes on - in our case with another
1985 O&M, which already handles Guinness internationally, wins the
account in a pitch against incumbent Allen Brady & Marsh - creator of
the ’Guinnless’ campaign - and J. Walter Thompson, a previous
Brand share is struggling at 3.4 per cent. The Pure Genius campaign
1987 Four commercials kick off the ’man with a Guinness’ campaign
starring the actor, Rutger Hauer.
1989 Canned Draught Guinness is launched.
1992 Launch of the first of hundreds of black and white ads in the
’fractionals’ campaign: these exploit links with editorial using
extensive copy rotations.
Guinness puts pounds 5 million behind its bottled brand, Guinness
Original: Tim Curry and Gina Bellman enact games describing the taste of
1994 The ’man with the Guinness’ series ends after seven years and 27
executions. Rutger Hauer is no longer moving people. ’Chain’, with its
Louis Armstrong soundtrack, wins at D&AD.
1995 O&M creates a screensaver based on Arks’ ’anticipation’ commercial,
which shows Joe McKinney dancing around his pint as he waits for it to
settle. ’Anticipation’ also runs in the UK.
1995 The ’gay kiss’ ad fiasco. Rob MacNevin, Guinness’s marketing
director, denies its existence. Campaign obtains a copy of the finished
1996 Launch of the long-awaited ’not everything in black and white makes
sense’ campaign with posters, press and four spots directed by Tony
O&M also unveils ’the Local’ - an interactive Website. In May, O&M and
its Bell Advertising subsidiary in Dublin is asked to create a summer
campaign for Guinness Ireland, ending Arks’ 25-year tenure of the
However, in August, HHCL & Partners is appointed sole agency for
Guinness Ireland. In June, O&M wins the relaunch of Kaliber, after Euro
RSCG Wnek Gosper resigns the account to work for Bass.
1997 The ’fish on a bike’ screensaver is launched. Brand share hits 5
per cent for the first time, the ’statistics’ spot is released. The
review is called in November.