In the 1920s Guinness had a problem. The venerable Irish brewer had been around since 1759—nearly two centuries—but geopolitical events were threatening to render its sales flat. Irish independence had leveled a new import tax on England-bound barrels. Add this to the near total loss of a prohibition-era U.S. market and things were not looking good for the sultan of stout. Guinness needed a marketing strategy—a relatively new concept at a time when legacy brands saw advertising as desperately uncouth. The in-house tagline “Guinness is good for you” was born in 1929 (the first of many touting the beer’s health benefits) but it wasn’t until Guinness tapped London creative agency S.H. Benson that the brand’s first legendary ad campaign would begin. Illustrator John Gilroy was given the account.
Gilroy, a former cartoonist for the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, transformed Guinness’ image from town drunk to safari satire by incorporating…
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