Follow Lovin IE

30 Great Vintage Guinness Ads

By louisejohnston

December 20, 2016 at 12:18am


Guinness is probably the first brand that comes to mind when you shout the word "Irish" to anyone. It is by far and indeed the most successful unofficial Irish brand to come out of our fair isle. Guinness is now owned by DIAGEO, the world's number 1 drinks producer and distribution company. But throughout the past 70 odd years they've created the most recognisable, groundbreaking and fun ad campaigns. So here are the top 30 great vintage Guinness ads:

30. Longing For a Guinness, 1930

This was part of their 'good for you' campaign. The same campaign actually urged customers to 'Have a Guinness when you're tired' or 'have a Guinness a day'.... obviously not quite something they'd endorse today.


29. My Goodness, My Guinness- Ostrich, 1936

A few Guinness fans wrote in to point out that if the Ostrich had in fact drank the glass then it would have been positioned the other way up! John Gilroy (the artist who created most of these campaigns) pointed out that the bird was actually trying to balance the pint on its beak just like the sea lion was in another ad when it slipped down its throat.


28. Guinness For Strength, 1934

The famous Girder made its first appearance in 1934. It was such a popular ad people kept asking for a 'girder' in pubs. Obviously again, this ad contains claims that they'd no longer endorse. We all know it won't make us strong, but carrying girders will!


27. Harp Player, 1949

This Guinness for strength campaign won John Gilroy a standing ovation when the ad first appeared.


26. Guinness Is Grand, 1959

Photography has started to replace illustrations at this point. Nearing to the 60's the cult of promoting the young and beautiful was born.


25. Comes To Life, 1955

The flying Toucan took off on the small screen- stealing glasses of the black stuff from the RAF mess hall.

24. My Goodness My Guinness, Zookeeper

Part of the 'My Goodness' campaign and continuing Guinness' obsession with using exotic animals this ad just screams humour.


23. Guinness Time, 1934

Probably one of the most memorable campaigns, the simple styling and font is what made this so timeless.


22. Guinness Is Good For You- Two Heads

Two heads are indeed better than one in this circumstance.


21. Guinness Is Good For You- Smiling

This wasn't a joke. Doctors genuinely thought Guinness was good for your health because of its high iron content.


20. Comes To Life- Sea Lion, 1955

The first ever Guinness TV commercial was broadcast on 22nd September 1955. It was the first ever ad ever featured on British TV and ran in conjunction to the launch of ITV.

19. Guinness Time- Armour, 1945

The Ministry of Information's 'Dig for Victory' campaign was echoed here to join their 'Strength' series.


18. There's Nothing Like A Guinness, 1938

The smiling head in the pint glass was a familiar feature from the 30's. Encouraging consumers to savour every last drop.


17. Down With Guinness, 1955

This poster ran during the 1955 British general election campaign. A bit of topical satire.


16. Label Pour, 1989

Far from the traditional marketing, this poster shows consumers what to do- take the bottle and pour it into the glass.


15. TV Dinner, 1955

Times we evolving and it was becoming acceptable to show women drinking in advertisements. Also people were moving from the table to the couch.


14. Have A Guinness You're Tired

Playing on the fact that turtles move about slowly, this ad encouraged consumers to have a pint to wake them up!


13. Torpedo, 1943

Advertising during the wartime rationing was a difficult area to enter. Guinness always kept up the humour and in this ad their intention was to keep up morale.


12. Guinness For Strength- Horse, 1958

One of the few posters drawn by a female illustrator.


11. I Feel Like A Guinness, 1936

Looks more like a vintage postcard but this old ad is encouraging drinking in social situations.


10. Hold It, 1967

This ad introduced the Waterford tankard to the media mix. It also was emphasising the big move from bottle to draught.


9. I Feel Like A Guinness- Ship, 1944

As WWII was ending, old jokes pioneered by Guinness were recycled with a modern twist.


8. Smiling, 1966

SH Benson designer Bruce Hobbs came up with this visual gag by cleverly morphing the Guinness brand name.


7. Thinking, 1967

This poster experiments with split screen technique which was a popular advertising method in the 60's.


6. My Goodness My Guinness, 1943

One of the most popular from the 'My Goodness My Guinness' campaign this first appeared in printed media and was re-released in 1947 in colour.


5. After Work- Shipyard, 1966

The beginning of more sophisticated advertising from Guinness encouraging 'after work' drinks.

4. Turning To Guinness, 1942

In wartime Britain, they turned to the army to show support.


3. Guinness For Strength- 5 Million, 1960

Ran in-line with the re-introduction of the 'girder' to celebrate the 5 million pints of Guinness drank a day in 1960.


2. Reward, 1964

This ad showcased the new typeface- the Hobbs face which nicely echoed the 'Wanted' posters of the Wild West.


1. Guinness Isn't Good For You, 1980's

Due to regulations, they could no longer use their classic slogan so marketeers decided to play around. The public went wild and approved this type of guerrilla marketing.



Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get the best of your city straight to your inbox.

I'd like to receive news and exclusive offers from Lovin IE including competitions, products, commercial partners and activities. By submitting this form you agree to our T&Cs and our privacy policy