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Vintage Guinness Posters: A History

By Edited Aug 20, 2016 0 0

Any person who has ever found his or her way into an Irish pub or a college dorm is familiar with vintage Guinness posters: The zookeeper ("My Goodness My Guinness") or the toucan with a pint on its beak ("Lovely day for a Guinness"). Replica Guinness posters and tin sign advertisements still sell well today.

This is, of course, the point. Throughout the last century, Guinness developed a differentiation strategy from other beers through advertising and image creation. Guinness' strategy was very successful, too. Besides in dorm rooms, the toucan image can be found in just about any Irish pub in any city on the planet.

Artist John Gilroy was the creator of this style of Guinness posters. Gilroy was an artist Benson's, an English advertising firm, in 1928, when Guinness contact the company about an advertising campaign. Guinness sales had plateaued, and the brewery wanted to reach a new and wider audience.

Gilroy's initial campaign went public in 1930 -- "Guinness Is Good For You" -- and quickly found success. Not long after, Gilroy created the zookeeper and inked his Guinness-thirsty animals in the "My Goodness My Guinness" campaigns. Guinness strengthened its brand further in the following decades via radio and television spots. By 1950, Guinness was moving 5,000,000 pints every day, 1.5 times MORE than before Gilroy's campaigns. Gilroy ultimately worked with Guinness through the 1960s and produced more than 50 posters, as well as numerous other advertising materials.

By 1983, Guinness could see that its posters and marketing materials had attained cult status among beer lovers. The imagery and tone simply resonated with many, many people. As such, many replicas found their ways onto the walls of Irish pubs, which had become standard nightlife destinations throughout the Western world and beyond. The prevelance of the Irish pub further introduced many people to the Guinness brand and its posters. That the artwork was solid also helped.

Since then, Guinness has expanded ad campaigns and upped the creative ante each time. Particularly, television ad called "Anticipation" from the 1990s shows a bar patron dancing like mad while waiting for the bartender to top off his Guinness. And, of course, the "To Arthur!" commercials immortalized the brand for the 250th anniversary and got major play during the 2010 World Cup.  

Today, Guinness sells some 10,000,000 pints every single day. Guinness posters and ad materials have become their own cult symobls. While the replicas sell well, collectors have been known to pay big money for originals. And for his artistic contributions with Guinness -- and in many other areas, as well -- John Gilroy received an honorary Masters of Arts from Newcastle University in 1975 and was appointed Freeman of the City of London six years later.

My Goodness My Guinness Poster

My Goodness My Guinness Poster


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