Sunday, 2 February 2014

Guinness is Good For You

FB and Mrs FB had cause to make a short visit to the Irish town of Athlone last week.

Sean's Bar in situ - open since 900AD
One of the - if not the - principal tourist attractions in the small town is Sean's Bar - certified in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest bar in Ireland. During renovations in 1970, the walls of the bar were found to be made of wattle and wicker dating back to the tenth century a sample of which remains on display. Reputedly the bar holds records of every owner since 900 A.D. although these were not available for inspection on FB and Mrs FB's visit, FB understands that among their number is Boy George who apparently owned it briefly in 1987.  Nor was it clear to FB how many of the regulars propping up the bar had themselves been in the bar since it first opened. 

FB and Mrs FB enjoyed the local brew.  It is after all Good For You.  FB is still unable to verify whether and why Guinness in Ireland tastes so much better than ostensibly the same product in Scotland or the rest of the UK. It must be that leprechaun magic. Anyway he commends Sean's Guinness to his handful of worldwide readers should they find themselves in the middle of Ireland and in need of a refreshment.

Other than the copious pages of the Guinness Book of Records taken up by cricketers' achievements, Guinness no longer has a strong relationship with cricket.  At one time things were different. The Guinness Cup which ran as an inter-regional tournament in Ireland between 1966 and 1995 is considered to have had an important impact in widening the spread of the game and raising standards, providing a base for the further development of the game in Ireland and its present success.

Otherwise Guinness has never had a major sponsorship in the game, but cricket did feature in its advertising campaigns. For example, in the magazine ads from the 1930s and 1940s which were drawn by the celebrated cartoonist HM Bateman. 
UMPIRE (with glass of Guinness) - Very refreshing
Another example on a similar theme.  Sales soared.

In another Bateman cartoon a timid batsman is taking his guard facing a huge red-faced bowler with bulging biceps surrounded by equally large and snarling fielders.  The umpire asks 'What do you want - middle or leg?'  The Batsman replies 'I think I'd better have a Guinness.'  Sales rocketed.  

Guinness advertising campaigns have been memorable and prominent for many years with many distinctive slogans including Guinness is Good For You and Guinness Makes You Strong. Dorothy L Sayers was a copy writer on the campaigns in the 1940s. The iconic status of their campaigns continues to the present.

Here is an example of TV/cinema advertisement from the 1960s that uses cricket.  Warning - cricketers of a certain age may find the world depicted here causes their eyes to water unduly in a nostalgic mist. O tempora o mores.

But a bit more up to date, perhaps FB's all time favourite ad is Guinness' 1995 offering Anticipation, featuring actor Joe McKinney dancing to Guaglione by Perez Prado while his pint settled.

Link to the full ad -
Test Match Quality
Cricketers should find the name of Perez Prado rings a bell for them. Besides Guaglione, the Cuban Bandleader, who is known as the King of the Mambo, originated Mambo#5 which was the basis of the Luis Bega hit that provided the theme music for Channel 4's late lamented Test Match coverage.  

Did Prado enjoy a Guinness?  Possibly.  After all Guinness is Good for You.  It was certainly good for Prado - as the popularity of the advert propelled Guaglione to the top of the charts.


  1. In the 1960's Harp Lager was created as a sister brand to Guinness and their advertising campaigns were every bit as catchy. One memorable series featured men from various walks of life trying to extricate themselves from a sticky situation with the slogan "Time for a cool sharp Harp - time for a smart exit". In current circumstances, this scenario could be useful to the England Cricket Team in Australia.

    1. Indeed - and the smartest exit was made by Graeme Swann.