Anyone at Diageo who thinks it’s a good idea to close Guinness’ Dublin brewery should maybe also give some thought to abandoning the famous two-part pour, making it paler – lager-coloured say – brewing it in a shed just off the M1 and changing the name to something snappier – what about Harp? Oh, hang on…
Guinness is an unparalleled icon in the beer market, peerless in terms of quality. The brand team that walks away from this kills the brand.
Everyone I’ve ever met who has worked on Guinness knows what the real problem is – a problem that was recorded at least as far back as the 1930s. People think it’s heavy, harsh and bitter, a challenging taste, whereas it’s actually silky, smooth and deceptively drinkable. They think it’s a meal in a glass, whereas a pint of Guinness actually has fewer calories than lager.
Beer is about heritage, romance and tradition, whereas taste is transitory and often cyclical. Guinness has always stuck to its guns, and has ridden out all short term trends. It should continue to do so.
[Then you have to give a few bullet point, off-the-cuff marketing tips]
- Step up experiential marketing – confront the misconception about the product head on by getting people to try it.
- Events with vertical tastings of the many different Guinnesses available would only deepen people’s appreciation of the brand.
- Don’t waver on ritual, and don’t lose the romance of the product
- Try food pairings – why are so few people aware of what an amazing match Guinness is with chocolate desserts?
It's not that difficult, is it? I would bet my house on the fact that, if Guinness closed their brewery as a cost-saving measure, they would find themselves with a more impoverished business twelves months later. Why do so few marketers (and I say this as a marketer) fail to see that it's the romance of beer that contributes to profitable beer brands? Heritage, superstition, a respect for tradition, tribalism, belligerence, call it what you will, love it or hate it, all brand owners know that there is a huge but intangible value in the whole invisible history around any given brand. You can't prove it's there, so you can't quantify the impact of its loss. Until it's too late. And apart from that, isn't the world simply a duller place when this kind of thing gets overruled in favour of simple, measurable metrics? (Sorry, but that's what they call them - numbers.)
Hoegaarden closed the brewery in Hoegaarden, and there are rumours of industrial unrest leading to supplies runnign out in the UK - just as competitors like Grolsch Weizen appear on the scene. Boddington's clsoed its Strangeways brewery, and a year later announced that it was withdrawing advertising support (I would imagine, though Inbev would deny this, because the shrunken value of the brand doesn't justify a big spend).
Christ, it's hardly rocket science is it?