CAMPAIGNS: PRODUCT PR - Guinness takes a dive for Gen-X

Client: Guinness Bass Import (Stamford, CT)

Client: Guinness Bass Import (Stamford, CT)

Client: Guinness Bass Import (Stamford, CT)

PR Team: Bragman Nyman Cafarelli (Los Angeles)

Campaign: ’The Great Guinness Toast’

Time Frame: October 1999 to February 2000

Budget: dollars 150,000

The makers of Guinness are making a serious play for Gen-X drinkers.

A big part of that initiative has been the eight-year-old Great Guinness

Toast, a promotional event usually held in the weeks leading up to St.

Patrick’s Day. Bar patrons across the country simultaneously raise a

pint of the famous black beer with the white foamy head.

In 1998, the promotion began to gather steam, with 197,000 taking part

in 60 cities. This year, Guinness Bass Import gave Bragman Nyman

Cafarelli, which has been working for the company for five years, the

task of creating a national image for the formerly decentralized Great

Guinness Toast.


Guinness has been preoccupied with the perception that the brand is not

as ’exciting and refreshing as it is,’ says Bragman Nyman account

supervisor Brian Gordon. ’We wanted to do a couple of major things that

would get some major national attention’ in the big media markets. The

agency decided to pull off an edgy stunt, then stage a star-studded gala

at the hippest of hip Los Angeles bars - the Viper Room - on the night

of the toast, February 26.


Gordon had sky-surfing champion Joe Jennings, fellow surfer and stuntman

Carl Nespoli and a cameraman jump out of a plane about 10,000 feet above

Perris Valley, CA. They sat on barstools welded to a table, lifting

Guinness-branded pint glasses ’with black wax melted inside with a

whitish kind of wax on top to represent the foamy head,’ says


Then Gordon sought out Los Angeles party promoter Jeffrey Best, who

helped the agency arrange for stars like Johnny Depp, Billy Zane, Alyssa

Milano and Perry Farrell to attend the Viper Room party. The Guinness

theme was purposely muted, says Gordon, so as not to scare off the stars

or tread on the venue’s legendary distaste for publicity. ’This was the

seeding of the Hollywood community,’ he says, adding that the party

built credibility with stars and Hollywood venues for future


The agency alerted local markets via PR Newswire of the February 26

toast. When the toast record was broken, the focus shifted to the 12

major markets. The agency sent press releases on the Viper Room event

and the mid-air toast to more than 40 dailies and alternative weeklies.

Video of the sky dive was put out on satellite and will also be used

with e-mail as teasers. ’It’s the kind of image we want people to see,’

says Gordon. ’We no longer want them to just see people sitting at a bar

drinking beer.’


The event was the largest-ever simultaneous toast - with 340,000

participants - certified by The Guinness Book of World Records (yes,

it’s all part of the same big company). Stories on the toast ran in

Chicago and Los Angeles newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times.

Mitchell Fink’s column in The New York Daily News had it as a key item.

KABC in Los Angeles ran a segment using the stunt footage on three

separate occasions over the weekend of Feb. 26. The video was also shown

on local television stations in Washington, DC, Chicago and Phoenix.


Guinness will continue to use celebrity names and edgy stunts to

strengthen its hold on urban males in their mid-20s, while seeking to

further dispel its older, serious image, according to Howard Pulchin,

director of communications for Guinness Bass Import.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in