I was sitting just outside a pub in Temple Bar, Dublin and I couldn’t help but notice the lack of billboards in the city. Being a New Yorker, I’m used to being (over) exposed to an exorbitant amount of advertisements in creative placements on nearly every surface. From staircase landings to skyscrapers to buses and taxis, NYC is wrapped in advertisements like one big consumer gift box.
But there I was, an American Ad-Gal abroad (if Ad-Gal takes off as an industry phrase, I’d like to note in advance that I totally came up with that, or at least I think I did), noticing off in the distance a singular, large billboard promoting the local rugby team, sponsored by Guinness. The copy read, “Guinness And Rugby, A Perfect Match.” Nice. No frills. I’m a fan.
Actually, the majority of advertisements that I noticed in Dublin City were sponsored by Guinness. And it got me thinking (albeit clouded by the delicious black stuff), do any brands in NYC make this kind of impression on tourists with their ads?
This September, the Guinness Storehouse was named Europe’s Number One Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards, beating Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower and the Colloseum. It’s fascinating to me that a museum at a brewery is able to compete with ancient architecture for the top tourist attraction within the U.K. and E.U. Could its surging popularity be attributed to the brand’s strong advertising? As an Ad-Gal, I felt it was my duty to take a tour of the place and find out.
Boasting roughly 13 million visitors since the exhibit opened in 2006, the Storehouse brings visitors back in time to the late 1700s, when Arthur B. Guinness purchased the massive plot in St. James’s Gate, to the present day atop the tallest tower in the city, the Guinness Gravity Bar, featuring 360-degree views of the great city of Dublin.
Interestingly, there’s a floor dedicated to the history of Guinness-branded ads. Guinness started advertising in 1929, when it started exporting what has arguably become the most recognizable beer in the world. These iconic ads, featuring classic lines like, “My Goodness My Guinness,” “Opening Time is Guinness Time,” or my personal favorite, “Guinness is Good for You,” are all seen within an interactive display at the Guinness Storehouse Advertising Bar. These recognizable ads, featuring Garda (Irish police) plus the famous toucan and alligator are all cultural symbols closely tied to Dublin — but I won’t reveal all the details, you’ll have to make a visit and see for yourself why.
Every country’s greatest export, however, is its culture. Yes, stereotypically (and quite truthfully), beer is part of Irish culture. It’s everywhere. It’s not dramatized or stigmatized. It’s simply delicious. But believe the hype: they say Guinness is best in Ireland, and whether I was taught to believe that from an ad or not, It’s true! I mean, they wouldn’t lie about something that’s good for you, right?