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The Judges’ Club: meet Rosalind Healy, Guinness’s global content and innovation director


By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

August 22, 2022 | 7 min read

Ahead of the September 7 entry deadline for The Drum Awards for Content, we meet judge Rosalind Healy, the global content and innovation director for Guinness, who tells us about Diageo’s brand activism framework and its approach to content marketing. You can find out more about how to enter the Content Awards here.

Guinness' 'Welcome Back' camapaign

Although her plans initially were to be a lawyer, once Rosalind Healey had made it through university, she decided she wanted to take a more creative path and joined Diageo’s graduate scheme, working her way up from UK Smirnoff brand marketer to a European innovation-based role.

Next, Healey went to Moscow to create an innovation pipeline in Russia, followed by a role in Africa working on Guinness. After a stint in Dublin working on the Bailey’s brand, she took on her current role as global content and innovation director of Guinness in 2020.

This year, she has been a judge for The Drum Awards for Content. We caught up with her to find out more about her journey to the top.

If you could fix one problem in the alcohol industry, what would it be?

There is more to do in making the alcohol industry more sustainable and a positive driver from grain to glass, from where we source our ingredients and those agricultural practices that need to evolve right the way through to the glass. It’s our job to ensure the pub of the future is sustainable, valuable and at the heart of our communities as it historically always has been. It’s the biggest issue that we all must solve in every aspect of our life, and the alcohol category is no different. 

Earlier this year, Diageo introduced a training program for marketers to ingrain sustainability into brand activity and avoid greenwashing. How has that been progressing?

Sustainability is fundamental to Guinness, to our brand strategy and its future. We are determined to lead the industry and use all the tools and resources that we have to make a positive impact on the world. The next shift in that is sustainability not being seen as a separate work stream, which is why the brand activism training is an important part of what’s to come. It will be a core capability for Diageo marketers as it is everybody’s responsibility. 

We recently launched a ground-breaking regenerative agriculture pilot program that forms part of Diageo’s wider 10-year sustainability action plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, and the company’s commitment to work in collaboration with farmers and other partners in its value chain to halve their indirect carbon emissions by 2030. We have made a number of significant commitments by 2030, including net zero carbon emissions, zero waste and use of 100% renewable energy from our production operation; 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging and, on average, every drink produced will take 30% less water than it does today.

In Ireland, the home of Guinness, the ‘Guinness Quarter’ development at St James’s Gate aims to be Dublin’s first carbon neutral district and 70% of the Guinness Quality fleet will be zero emission by the end of 2025 and 100% by 2030.

What changes has Guinness implemented in its content marketing in the last few years?

Guinness has been implementing formal systems that enable us to identify those little nuggets of behavioral insight across our communities and beyond. Having a laser focus on cultural insight has been the seed of all the best work that we’ve done in the last couple of years.

Fostering those friendships and looking for those opportunities to create together is also a big part of our cultural marketing agenda and we have a project in the pipeline, which has come from those more informal conversations in the background that has given rise to a great idea.

That precision around creativity, and how we use data to drive those decisions in terms of the creative that we make and how we target and tailor that, is increasingly important. 

How important is it for the industry to celebrate and reward excellence?

Great creativity is worthy of celebration. When you create a platform that makes that creativity visible, it’s good for the soul and it inspires. The showcasing of the impact of that is important as it reminds us of the positive impact that we can have on the world and on people when we get it right. 

Also, the rigor that awards force, in terms of measurement of impact and commercial success, is important for us to make the case for great creativity. It isn’t frivolous – it unlocks growth for brands and is fundamental to the success of the business. Awards have such rigorous criteria and force an important role in thinking, measurement and evaluation.

What career moment do you most look back on with pride?

I joined the Bailey’s team when the premix category was in a seven-year decline and set to work on creating new revenue streams where they didn’t previously exist. There wasn’t great belief that anybody wanted to drink creme liquors any more, but the creation of a strategy that reframed Bailey’s saw incredible double-digit growth over the last few years. People believed the category to be dead, but we found that transformational breakthrough insight and unlocked new possibilities and revenue streams of growth. 

And what campaign are you most proud of? 

The ’Welcome Back’ campaign. It came from real behavioral observation and insight that people were sharing things that looked like a pint of Guinness. It was that iconic pint that people were missing from the pub. The public had been sharing these look-a-likes and that little nugget became a seed for our creative agency, AMVBBDO.

We had to get the tone right, which at the time was important and difficult because it was hard to predict how people would feel from one month to the next. Covid was so cruel in that way. You’re very conscious as a brand marketer as you want to pay tribute to consumers and what they’ve been through as well as pay tribute to the trade and the pubs in a way that felt sensitive but also had poignancy, raised a smile and made people feel good. I was proud of the tone of that campaign and how we got it right. 

Make sure you enter The Drum Awards for the Content before September 7.

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