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Agency: AMV BBDO
Client: Guinness
Date: May 2021
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A lone pair of socks on a clothesline. An empty telephone booth. An overflowing garbage bin. Two elderly women chatting from a safe six-foot distance. All of these scenes offer a strikingly cinematic look at a United Kingdom brought to a halt.

And yet, there is something subconsciously familiar about all of these scenes. Each shot resembles a Guinness – à la Tootsie Roll’s iconic ‘whatever it is I think I see’.

The many images in the film share a black-and-white thematic look, which call to mind the black-and-white contrast of a Guinness stout topped with a frothy, white head. “As fans of the brand ourselves, we started to miss the iconic black pint so much that we began seeing them everywhere, in the most mundane objects,” say Jack Watts and James Cambridge, creatives at AMV BBDO, the agency that brought the campaign to life. “Because the pint is so visually familiar, you can’t avoid seeing it when you have it on your mind.”

#LooksLikeGuiness features images set against a heartfelt Jack Savoretti rendition of the classic ballad Always On My Mind – a song made famous by Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson.

The ad concludes with a scene depicting a group of jovial friends sharing pints of Guinness together in a classic wood-paneled British pub, with a text overlay reading: ‘Good things come to those who wait.’

The campaign is a toast to the recent reopening of pubs and bars in the UK, and broader efforts to lift social restrictions as vaccination efforts make headway around the world. “The campaign was inspired by that all-too-familiar experience of seeing something we miss everywhere we look – in this case, a pint of Guinness, in a pub, with our mates,” says Neil Shah, head of Guinness Great Britain.

It probably won’t hurt the brand’s sales efforts, either. Diageo, Guinness’ parent company, saw stock prices jump about 4% in the UK market Wednesday following an announcement that $1.4bn (£1bn) would be paid to shareholders by the end of June 2022. Diageo also said it expects operating profits to rise 14% in the full fiscal year. This represents a turnaround from last year, when forced closures of restaurants and bars cut company profits nearly in half for the fiscal year ending in June 2020. It seems the beverage titan is on the up-and-up.

The #LooksLikeGuinness campaign follows Guinness’ Raising the Bar initiative, in which the company pledged $42m (£30m) to support UK hospitality and pub businesses through the challenges of Covid-19.

“The past year has been tough for the hospitality industry and the reopening of indoor service has been a long time coming,” says Shah. “...we wanted to mark this occasion with our #LooksLikeGuinness campaign.”

And to further its support for bars, pubs, restaurants and other establishments that may need a little extra help getting things up-and-running post-pandemic, Guinness in April sent out quality control experts to help clean over 200,000 draft lines – the draught piping that can collect sediment, yeast and bacteria – in some 50,000 establishments across the UK. “We’re looking to ensure outlets can continue to operate in a safe and sustainable way,” Shah says.

The campaign will be activated not only on national broadcast television in the UK, but also across digital channels – including advertising video on demand (AVOD) and across social media – as well as in print and digital out-of-home (DOOH). The brand invites consumers to post images of their own pints online and use the hashtag #LooksLikeGuiness.

Before the pandemic’s onset, one in every 10 pints served in London was a Guinness, per Diageo. And the king of stouts is ready to get us all buzzed again.