Copywriting Tips For Advertising Learned From Guinness Beer

If you’ve ever spent time in Dublin, chances are you’ve been to the Guinness Storehouse. According to the fast-talking cab driver who whisked us from one side of the city to the other, the Guinness Storehouse is the biggest tourist attraction in Dublin.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I touched down in this delightful Irish city. Not wanting to miss out, we fell into that tourist trap – and I’m glad we did!

The Guinness Storehouse is a multi-level museum. You start at the bottom where you learn about the basics of beer brewing – hops, malt, barley and water. It’s the water that’s supposed to make this type of beer especially delicious. The water (as you can see pouring down behind me in the picture below) comes from the Wicklow mountains. What that *really* means, I have no idea, but it was a fun concept.

As we made our way up through the rest of the museum, we learned more about the beer brewing process, the Guinness family, and the history behind why this beer was so uniquely special.

Then, came my favorite floor – the advertising display!

NOTE: I’m letting my marketing freak flag fly and I’m completely okay with that.

This floor was filled with examples of old time advertisements that Guinness used to spread the word about their brew. Of course, I immediately latched on to the fundamental, yet intelligently incorporated copywriting concepts used throughout. These advertisements might be old but their strategies are anything but ancient.

Here are three of my favorite copywriting tips for advertising from Guinness.

1. Tell a Story

The commercial showed friends getting together for a round of drinks – but it was more than just that. These friends were showing a unique form of camaraderie. To this day, the commercial brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart. I love the message in this video.

At the Storehouse, I saw print advertisements that told other stories about how people enjoyed Guinness. Some examples include:

You’ll soon notice an animal theme in Guinness’s older advertisements. It’s cute, quirky, and effective. It doesn’t matter that animals don’t actually drink the beer. Incorporating these adorable creatures helps with their story telling.

In this specific picture, they show two dapper young men enjoying a Guinness while dressed in what I can only assume is workman’s clothing. Perhaps these lads just got off work after a hard day on the job and decided it was a “lovely day for a Guinness.” Perhaps they were still at work at the zoo and decided to sneak a break with the seals to guzzle down a frosty beverage. No matter what Guinness’s advertising department had in mind, this advertisement paints a picture that hard working folks can relate to.

Here’s another display of Guinness’ quirky advertising. When it’s opening time (read: at sporting events, pubs, or when you open the hood in your armor), it’s time for a Guinness. With just a few words of experiential copywriting, the text leaves room for interpretation while still painting a story.

2. Create a Sense of Urgency

Paint all the stories you want with your copywriting, but if you don’t show a need, you’ll have a harder time of getting folks to make the leap and buy your product – and that’s the goal of marketing, isn’t it? To get people to buy?

Take a quick look at the display below. Can you feel this guy’s excitement?? CAN YOU?

Guinness does one of the best jobs of creating this sense of urgency. One of their most well-known and well-recognized approaches to this is their slogan, “My Goodness, My Guinness!”

This slogan sends shivers down any Guinness lover’s spine at the thought of the frosty beverage getting devoured by anyone other than the rightful owner. And Guinness does it again with the animal theme.

3. Make it Benefit Centric

Ask any copywriter about the fundamental rule of advertising and chances are you’ll hear, “benefits before features.”

It’s this rule that Guinness expounds on in a way that’s charming and classic.

Guinness doesn’t actually make you stronger, but if you have enough of it, you’ll sure feel stronger. The reader knows that and can relate to the feeling one gets when downing a few cold pints.

Bonus Tip

You’ll notice in each of these examples, the message is fun, upbeat, and light hearted. Guinness doesn’t come outright and say “Drink this now!” or “You’ll have fun while you drink our beer!” They get creative about it. They use colloquial terms and concise statements to get in the minds of their target market.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your copywriting. Too many advertisements go unheard because they’re dry, dull,  and boring. Liven it up a little bit. Let your freak flag fly high and proud. Show some personality in your brand’s copywriting and advertising.

Guinness found (and continues to find) ways to avoid being the industry wall flower in a crowded space. You can too.


About the author: Kimberly Crossland


“I’m Kimberly Crossland, owner, writer, and operator of The Savvy Copywriter, LLC. My full time job as a copywriter and content marketer is to save savvy entrepreneurs without a clue (or interest) in the Internet from destroying their business with a terrible or nonexistent website.

Fun Bits About Me

I have an unnatural obsession with the power of words.
You don’t want to talk to me first thing in the morning if I haven’t had a cup of coffee.
I speak two languages: English and Danish.
My other job titles include wife and dog-walker.
It doesn’t take a lot of convincing to get me to want to travel somewhere new and fun.
I follow the paleo diet, but I LOVE chocolate, cookies, and wine.