When Guiness Got All Handsy

My brain has gone on holiday this week, so here’s an excerpt from my dissertation. It was written almost three years ago, so I apologise for focussing on an out of date campaign. It still looks absolutely fantastic even now!

The word ‘Guinness’ is well known in the context of advertising due to their phenomenal success. The television advert ‘Surfer’ won a gold lion in Cannes, and was voted the best advertisement of all time in a poll conducted by Channel Four and The Sunday Times. However, the advertisement I have decided to focus on is one of the less well known advertisements from Guinness’ history; ‘Hands’.

I chose this particular Guinness advertisement, rather than ‘Surfer’ or ‘Noitulove’ because it was a mixed media campaign, and while incredibly simple in execution, the advertisement is a joy to watch. The advert ran on television, but was also accompanied with a website and other ambient products like holographic beer mats and flick-books found in pubs.

“In contrast to the lavish visual depth of ‘NoitulovE’ (Our Guinness evolution film), ‘Hands’ went back to basics. A simple idea well executed. We took the idea into digital, with interactive banners driving people to a microsite where they could create their own ‘Hands’ film and send it on to their friends. The average time spent on the site was an impressive 7.5 minutes. The ad generated 400,000 views on youtube, inspiring hundreds of people to do the same with their own versions.” – http://www.amvbbdo.com/

While the advertisement ran on television and was hosted on youtube it slowly began to spread virally. With the invention of the ‘Guinness Hands’ website, users were able to make their own version of the advert and send it on to their friends, who would then create their own version and send it on to their friends. This viral approach was exactly what AMV BBDO were hoping the advert would create. As already defined earlier, “viral marketing is a technique that uses pre-existing social networks to produce an increase in brand awareness”, so in AMV BBDO’s case it was the inclusion of the advertisement on youtube that encouraged audiences to refer friends to it voluntarily. Also, while the advertisement was hosted on public space, it led to audiences creating their own version of the advertisement outside of the Guinness hands website. These were then uploaded to youtube and mentioned as parodies, or tributes to the existing advertisement.

I believe that this venture into mixed media campaigns will be popular within the close future, if only because it gives the agencies one more way to reach an audience. This use of viral advertising was successful in the case of this particular campaign, but if the content is to be passed around, it needs to be as entertaining as ‘Hands’ was.

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