My Goodness, My Guinness!

Could Arthur Guinness ever have imagined the notoriety now garnered by his family name? Maybe. This was the man who at 34, signed a 9,000 year lease at an annual rent of  £45 to take over St James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, which in 1759 had been sitting abandoned for nearly ten years. To further diminish his odds of success, the brewing industry in the city at that time was at low ebb. He must’ve been something of a visionary, or just very, very lucky.

Guinness Stout (the drink)

When Guinness started his brewing career, it was ale that he hoped to improve upon. The quality was poor and in rural Ireland (which was most of Ireland), whiskey, gin and poteen were preferred. Nobody had really heard of beer. But in London, a new black ale was being made. Commonly called “porter” because it was popular with porters at Billingate and Covent Garden markets. So, Arthur Guinness made the switch and developed his own recipe for porter. (The term “stout” was not used until the 1920’s.) And he was so successful that he made his first export shipment in 1769 (consisting of 6 ½ barrels). Today, the beverages from Guinness are legion including Extra Stout, Nitro Cold Brew Coffee, Baltimore Blonde and Harp Lager.

Guinness is Good for You (the ads)

Guinness began advertising in 1794 and by the early 20th century, they were setting the standard for beer advertising with witty, engaging ads creating the best known beer in the world. Their first tagline written by Dorothy L. Sayers is still known today, “Guinness is good for you.” In 1862, they adopted the image of Brian Boru’s Celtic harp as part of their logo. Through much of the 20th century, Guinness was thought to have medicinal properties. Into the 1950’s, new mothers were given a Guinness because of its high iron content. “Guinness for Strength” appeared in 1930 and the iconic Toucan appeared in 1935. John Gilroy, an art director at the Benson Ad Agency, started working on the Guinness account in 1930 and illustrated almost all of Guinness' advertisements for the next thirty years.

In nearly every area of business development, Guinness has been ahead of its time. They seized upon the opportunities of exporting and actually developed some of the most sophisticated trucking and shipping strategies that have been emulated the world over. Long before “branding” was a thing, Guinness employees were proudly wearing the name embroidered on hats and work shirts. There are only a handful of brands so closely associated with their founder that the man’s signature is one of their logos. Today the company has won a number of prestigious print, TV and video advertising awards including the Cannes Grand Prix and Clio.

Guinness World Records (the stats)

Started as a marketing give-away, the book was not intended as a money-maker. In 1951, the managing director of the Guinness Breweries, Sir Hugh Beaver, got into an argument over whether the koshin golden plover or the grouse was the fastest game bird in Europe. Realizing that this was impossible to confirm in reference books, he decided to publish a book that could end such disputes. In 1954, Guinness gave away 1,000 copies of their Book of Records as a marketing ploy. Today the Guinness Book of World Records holds its own record as the best-selling copyrighted book series of all time. 

Guinness Merch (the stuff)

Guinness continues its remarkably successful messaging through a dizzying array of merchandise. You can very nearly stock your china hutch, your wardrobe, your game room and your Christmas tree all with timless art of Guinness. And if you find yourself in need for yourself or those on your gift list, you’re in luck! The Celtic Ranch proudly carries a variety of Guinness items for wearing, drinking, decorating and gaming. AND Guinness is our Vendor of the Month for September 2021, so all Guinness goods are 10% off. We’ve even got Guinness on tap! While you’re in the shop, why not nip upstairs and enjoy a properly pulled stout. It takes a bit longer to do it right, but we are committed to continue the great legacy of Arthur Guinness by giving you the best experience of it TODAY and for the next 8,738 years of that lease! Slainte!

Lori McAlister

Wrangler of Cultural Affairs

The Celtic Ranch | 404 Main Street | Weston, MO 64098 | Home of The Whiskey Snug

(All pix by Lori Mc)

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