Newspaper Advertising: Case study - Guinness

The story

Consumers have big expectations of Guinness. It's an iconic brand with a strong heritage and history of distinctive, classy and rewarding advertising campaigns.

Communications play a vital role for the business, firing up passion and pride for the brand and getting the pub chatter going - the brand isn't the "default" choice for its ABC1 male target audience.

When Guinness partnered the Newspaper Marketing Agency to test the impact of newspaper advertising, it was recognised that the brand's recent focus had been on TV creative. The challenge for the agency was to "create the first great press ad for the brand in years".

The brief was to communicate the brand idea: "The Guinness pint: Worth the ultimate wait." The hypothesis was that TV and newspapers work in different, but complementary ways. To create maximum synergy, the press had to work with the TV "noitulove" creative. Pre-testing of the newspaper creative was a key element of the development process.

Three creative routes were developed for qualitative exploration: "moments of step change", "BG" and "progress".

The "BG" approach (1) was polarising. Some found it humorous and quirky, others confusing and depressing. More importantly, there was little connection with the evolution theme of the TV creative. The "progress" (2) route also had issues; the idea didn't evoke "noitulove" and wasn't intelligent or distinctive enough for the Guinness brand.

The third route, "moments of step change" (3), had strong potential. Its iconic subject matter and the positive resolution all communicated the creative idea - that the ultimate reward (the pint) is worth the ultimate wait (evolution). While the approach was understood, the consumer feedback on the early executions was that there was something missing; could they be more humorous and a bit cleverer?

Further creative development addressed the executional issues. The layout was simplified, making the idea more accessible. The subjects chosen were more upbeat and more involving as a result. Further qualitative feedback confirmed that this was a campaign with the humour and cleverness expected of Guinness advertising. The ads were researched "in situ" in the paper to help ascertain stand-out and branding, as a result of which the branding was strengthened.

Four executions ran in the entertainment and sports sections of the papers. The "PlayStation" execution (4) was specifically designed to appeal to the younger tabloid reader, with three further executions - "Einstein", "man on the moon" (5) and "beach" - running across all the newspaper titles. The newspaper campaign ran for four weeks, partially overlapping with a burst of "noitulove" TV. The campaign was tracked by Millward Brown and Carat Insight ICE.

Both studies demonstrated that TV plus newspapers is a significant driver of both brand preference and consideration. The newspaper campaign achieved strong cut-through. It also generated shifts in preference that were incremental to the effect of the TV. Both the newspapers and TV had the same effect on the brand in terms of driving perceptions of it as being popular and better tasting. But newspapers were also adding another layer to the TV communication; driving values of modernity and positive personality attributes.

There was a strong sales story, too. Tesco Clubcard data was analysed by dunnhumby and showed that newspapers were responsible for a 4 per cent sales increase in the 12-week period following the campaign.

The test had proved that, for Guinness, newspapers played an important role in supporting and complementing the TV and driving sales. It also demonstrated the value of pre-testing to deliver a campaign quirky and original enough to satisfy the audience expectations.

- Ashley Alsup is an account planner at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO; Russell Jones is the marketing director at Guinness.