Drinks company Diageo said on Thursday that Guinness sales in the UK and Ireland were up 6% on the back of its ‘Tipping Point’ advertising campaign, which features hundreds of Argentinean villagers constructing a massive domino rally. The ad – which cost about £10m, making it the company’s most expensive ever – has managed to reverse years of falling sales of the black stuff (even in its Irish heartland).
Personally, we prefer the dramatic White Horses surfer ad from a few years back, or even the ‘My Brother’s a Hero’ follow-up – at least they seemed to bear more of a relation to the Guinness experience. And for sheer comedy value, it’s hard to beat the old slogan ‘Guinness is good for you’ (which part of us still wants to believe). But you can’t argue with this kind of impact on sales.
Spirits have been the other big success story for Diageo. Despite the success of Guinness, beer drinking seems to be on the decline as we increasingly opt for wine and spirits instead, and Diageo has been a major beneficiary. Premium brands like Johnnie Walker whisky, Smirnoff vodka and Captain Morgan have all been selling like mad around the world, which is why Diageo snapped up a half-share in Dutch vodka brand Ketel One recently. Premium brands mean Diageo can charge us premium prices, which tends to have a beneficial impact on the bottom line.
One of the few negatives for Diageo was a 15% decline in the sales of ready-to-drink brands like Smirnoff Ice – previously a big growth area. Though since these brands appear to be exclusively drunk by teenagers and binge-drinkers, that should at least please the government.
Still, with overall profits up a healthy 5.3% to £1.37bn, CEO Paul Walsh will presumably be getting the drinks in at Diageo tonight. Let’s just hope that later in the evening he’s not overcome by an uncontrollable urge to put all his staff in a line and push them over.