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The PHD UK strategy that ensured Guinness was on everybody’s lips when pubs reopened


By Awards Analyst, writer

June 15, 2022 | 3 min read

Diageo and PHD UK won the Grand Prix, as well as the FMCG and B2C Integrated categories, at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022 for its ’Looks Like Guinness’ work. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful project...

With the long-awaited reopening of pubs and bars across the UK after the Q1 2021 lockdown, PHD UK and Diageo needed to make sure Guinness was front of mind for pub goers as they returned to the bar.

The brief

In 2021, with the prospect of bars reopening becoming a reality, conversations turned to that first pint. For Guinness, which is so closely associated with pubs and how it is poured, this mattered a lot. Pubs, bars and restaurants make up 70% of the brand’s UK sales, so it was essential that when drinkers headed back to the bar that Guinness was on their lips.

The idea

Tapping into this sense of longing, PHD UK’s communications strategy was designed to create moments where distinctive Guinness brand assets appeared everywhere you looked – ’Looks Like Guinness’. It did this using personal and proximity targeting, as well as national broadcast media.

The campaign launched with a video that captured the sense of longing for a pint of Guinness, with a series of ads that used the brand’s famous black and white iconography in everyday scenarios.

PHD UK then went local with handpicked OOH ads that referenced the specific location and distance to local bars in the run up to reopening day. It also used dynamic weather-triggered creative that activated depending on the conditions, with copy such as ’It’s raining. It’s pouring.’

As the big reopening got closer, a week’s worth of high impact and engagement activity ran, including an emotional 40-second ‘Welcome Back’ commercial.

To help people find their nearest pint of Guinness, it also built a bespoke local pub finder on the Guinness website and created a PPC campaign to help navigate consumers to the site.

The results

The campaign was seen by 72% of UK adults (39 million) while Guinness was the UK’s most talked about beer brand on social media in the run-up to reopening day on May 19, 2021.

It also achieved exactly what it set out to do, making Guinness the ’first pint’ of preference when UK pubs reopened. In the first post-lockdown month, Guinness increased its UK market share from 3.2% to 4.8%, stealing share from Stella Artois, Carlsberg and San Miguel (the UK market leaders), which all saw a decline.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. You can see all the winners here.

And check out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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