Created to mark UK pubs opening up again, the new Guinness ad is a lesson in marketing psychology magic.
Or just proof, in ad form, that good things really do come to those who wait. Specifically if you’re holding your breath for Lockdown Exit.
Here’s why ‘Welcome Back’ is #Loxit genius (and what small business marketers can learn from this big brand).
Take three AIMs
The new ad packs the Holy Trinity of magnetic content into 40 seconds.
Intentional marketers should always AIM to include these three things in their content -
A = ARC
I = ICON
M = MANTRA
Let’s pick apart how it’s done. Plus add some marketing takeaways to accompany your long-awaited pint.
A is for (story) ARC
Here’s a new twist to the established Guinness slogan -
“Good things come to those who wait”.
It’s a familiar call for patience while you wait for the head to settle on your pint. Post-lockdown, it’s got a whole new resonance, doesn’t it?
Simple storytelling made relatable
The story takes a while to unfold, but has enough familiarity in the music to get us to lean in.
The ad rests on a version of ‘Before and After’ story or, in lockdown’s case, ‘During and After’.
Pre-transformation, it’s mostly everyday objects and empty streets. The only people are two women catching up from distanced park benches.
In this slice of lockdown life, wobbly visuals say “no fancy equipment or film crew here”. And there rests its shareability. It intentionally lacks gloss, so looks wall-to-wall authentic.
The beholder’s share
The low-key visuals make it instantly more relatable.
The simple story allows viewers to deepen the story by adding their “beholder’s share” from their own experience of waiting over this last year.
“The painter Marcel Duchamp once said that an artist does only 50 percent of the work in creating art. The remaining 50 percent is in the viewer’s brain. (Some artists and philosophers call the second half “the beholder’s share”).”
Lisa Feldman Barrett, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain
Thought-provoking visuals bridge the imagination gap too. My favourite vignette is the chimney topped with a flock of birds. Followed shortly after by the transformation shot of people gathered together in the newly-opened pub.
Takeaway — let the story settle
Guinness trailed the visuals on their Instagram feed for about a month before releasing the ad. That started the conversation and left space for engaging with the story.
It’s like pouring some story out, then letting it settle before you enjoy it. Magnetic content usually needs time to get traction. It usually also needs some kind of a curiosity gap like this — whether that’s a teaser or an unresolved part of the story.
Try teasing your content in advance. Or open up a curiosity gap, by using everyday experiences that users can relate to their own stories.
I is for ICON (or why we’re cloudspotting pints)
In case you needed a prompt, this was your cue on Guinness’ social media as back-up for the ad -
“Looks like we’re not the only ones who are seeing Guinness everywhere. Got Guinness on your mind too? Share your lookalikes with us #LooksLikeGuinness”
Priming us with the visual trigger of a black and white pint icon is so smart. In Contagious, Jonah Berger pointed out that KitKat did this by pairing their product with a habit using the line “Have a break, have a KitKat.”
Like KitKat, Guinness linked their product to stuff that we see everyday, so it always remains top of mind.
By priming us to see pints of Guinness everywhere we look, those clever marketers have passed the branding baton on to viewers. User-generated #LooksLikeGuinness photos continue the work for them.
Takeaway — pint-sized magic
Once you’ve seen this ad, you’ll be daydreaming pint-shaped black and white icons in your own backyard. Or local beer garden.
And just like that, #LooksLikeGuinness becomes a form of cloudspotting.
The music choice -“Always on my mind” — is a playful way to hammer that message home.
Try pairing your product or service with an everyday habit, or link it to something we see regularly in our environment. Ordinary objects like wheely bins, socks, washing machines. Then we never escape brand triggers. Pure genius.
M is for MANTRA
Even out of context of the ad, the familiar message is quotable and shareable — “Good things come to those who wait.”
The familiarity principle (or mere exposure effect) is well-researched in marketing psychology. The more we see something, the more we like it. That’s why it makes sense to stick with this familiar message in unfamiliar times.
Takeaway — magnify your mantra
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
AIM for lightbulb moments
You can find your own lightbulb moments in how the big brands create magnetic, contagious content.
As a solopreneur, it pays to learn marketing psychology lessons vicariously from the big brands. Think about how to apply these findings by creating thoughtful content for your own business.
Keep the AIM framework in mind — arc, icon, mantra.
Thoughtful, magnetic content doesn’t rely on a big budget. In fact, the lean towards conversational commerce and authenticity means that many big brands try to produce content that looks more dishevelled and less glossy.
Solopreneurs have an authenticity headstart on the big brands right here. For many small businesses, handheld and handmade is how their content comes to life.
Watch the ad and tell me your favourite lockdown vignette. Socks on the washing line? Snow-covered wheely bin?
Do you think genius looks like Guinness?
Published by Sue Moore, marketing psychology specialist at Virtual Gold Dust.