Guinness Brewing Company

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Guinness Brewing Company

In 1759 Arthur Guinness established a brewery at Saint James's Gate in Dublin and Ireland's greatest business success story began. In 1778 Guinness began to specialize in porter and its stronger cousin, stout; by 1833 it was the largest brewery in Ireland and had begun to establish a crucial presence in the British market; by the 1880s it was the leading brewery in the United Kingdom; and by 1914 it was the largest in the world.

Technical excellence, concentration on manufacturing and product quality, and superb management skills combined to keep Guinness in a pre-eminent position. In the 1930s it began advertising for the first time in response to a declining market in Britain. The timeless slogan "Guinness is good for you" was developed, promoting the health properties of stout. Witty and attractive cartoon posters established a brand awareness that was strengthened in subsequent decades by other innovative campaigns that made Guinness a globally recognized product. Because of its continuing dominance of the Irish market, the company did not advertise locally until the late 1950s, when a diversifying market and competition from British breweries in the newly opened Irish economy forced its hand. Beginning in the 1960s, Guinness was one of Ireland's leading advertisers, utilizing RTÉ, the new Irish television channel, the print media, and outdoor posters to great effect.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the company expanded its product portfolio in response to changing consumer tastes, through the takeover of smaller breweries and trade agreements with other international brewers. Its innovative marketing strategy was epitomized by the success of the Guinness Book of World Records. In 1986 the chairmanship of the company passed from family hands for the first time, and in 1997 Guinness merged with GrandMet to form Diageo, a huge global corporation.

SEE ALSO Brewing and Distilling; Industry since 1920


Bielenberg, Andy. "The Irish Brewing Industry and the Rise of Guinness, 1790–1914." In The Dynamics of the International Brewing Industry since 1800, edited by R. G. Wilson and T. R. Gourvish. 1998.

Lynch, P., and J. Vaizey. Guinness's Brewery in the Irish Economy, 1759–1876. 1960.

Sibley, Brian. The Book of Guinness Advertising. 1985.

Donal Ó Drisceoil

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Guinness Brewing Company

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