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Special Interest

For this section of the report, I have chosen to concentrate on the Ethics and Branding area of contemporary brand management. I decided upon this area because Guinness is in the alcoholic beverage market which is a topic surrounded by controversy. Ethical Branding is defined by Fan as “a subset of ethical marketing, (which) relates to certain moral principles that define right and wrong behaviour in branding decisions. ” There are often major issues with ethics in all areas of business due to the ever changing nature of ethical issues, especially between differing organisations or cultures.

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Basically, with branding, who is to say what is right and wrong. Well Guinness at least has legal obligations about their advertisements and who to market to. For example children, “The Advertising Codes prohibit the specific targeting of minors” (IAS, 2004) Therefore Guinness knew not to create a brand that would be attractive to children or those under 18, which personally, I do not think they have especially with the stylish nature of the design and the impression of maturity that comes with the brand. The Guinness brand doesn’t instinctively give associations to children. This would be ethical branding.

On the other hand, Guinness could be classed as unethical by promoting over indulgence, which with alcohol could become harmful. The brand sponsors a lot of sports teams with advertisements including hurling or rugby, this could be called unethical methods of communicating the brand to the customers because it is constant awareness of the brand. Kotler (cited Crane & Desmond, 2002) suggests that consumers have short term or “immediate desires” which could be distinguished from “longer term interests” and he says that a brand that may seem like it is meeting customer needs is actually harming society.

In Guinness’s case, the brand could go either way because they do encourage people to drink the brand and with the use of advertisements, create associations with the full flavour and having fun and enjoying life that this encouragement would be increased. Be that as it may, one of Guinness’s major awareness schemes were the phrase “good things come to those who wait” encourages people to enjoy Guinness but with patience.

The most iconic example of this would be the television advertisement called “The Surfer” which shows Hawaiian surfers waiting for the perfect wave and includes CGI with horses running through the waves. (see appendix 4) This advert does not show any of the Guinness product, never the less it increases associations with fun and achievements through patience with Guinness. This is more ethical than other alcohol brands who use women or social improvement in advertisements to attempt to change the consumers mind, by persuading them that their alcohol can improve a consumers social standing or help them in relationships.

Being an ethical brand is also about representing the corporate views of the parent company, with Guinness even though it is a product brand, it is left to operate by itself and therefore Guinness would be representing the views of both the Guinness breweries and Diageo. This may be the case however seeing as most people view Guinness as its own brand, not many know that it is owned by Diageo, therefore its reputation as an ethical brand would not necessarily be ruined by any unethical action undertaken by Diageo.

For example when Diageo hinted about moving the breweries away from St James Gate, there was a lot of public unhappiness however no one seemed to blame Guinness for it, “The days of Guinness at St James’s Gate are numbered as Diageo prepares to move to a greenfield site” (Mcconnell, 2007). Other than the dispute over moving sites, Guinness has not been present in the news in any negative ways such as being included in corruption, labour disputes or animal testing.

Therefore in that respect, the Guinness brand has remained fairly ethical. Ethics and Brands have a strong link because a brand image and personality is all based on the perceptions in the consumers’ minds, but do ethics really affect the buying power of the consumers? According to a study cited by Carrigan & Attalla (2001) “Most respondents agreed that social responsibility was not an important consideration in their purchasing behaviour” therefore the ethical perceptions of a brand does not matter to consumers.

However I feel that due to the image congruence hypothesis (Heath & Scott 1998) mentioned earlier on in the report and ideas like it, people will feel some change regarding a brand as they do not want to be associated with unethical brands, for example Nike with its involvement in Sweat shops. I feel that ethics do have an impact, subconsciously, on the perceptions people make in their minds about brands. With this in mind, it is therefore an advantage for Guinness to have a fairly ethical brand. 6. 0 Brand Management Recommendation

My idea to enhance Guinness’s consumer image is to use celebrity endorsement. Celebrity endorsement has influenced brand recognition, recall and purchasing intentions of customers as well as increasing the positivity of the endorsed brand. In 1995 for the launch of the “Anticipation” campaign the television advertisement contained Joe McKinney, an Irish actor, waiting for the perfect pint of Guinness. This advertising campaign was highly successful for Guinness however it was the only celebrity endorsed campaign, which was over 10 years ago.

Therefore I feel that it is time to make use of this technique. Research suggests that celebrity endorsement leads to greater recall of the brand and that “celebrity endorsement can influence perceived product quality and uniqueness” (Dean, 1999). My suggestion is to use an Irish celebrity whose personality matches that created by the brand pyramid, a distinguished actor which will mirror the quality of the product as well as the Irish heritage, for example Pierce Brosnan or Stuart Townsend.

I feel that either of these actors will help to enhance the brands consumer image, especially seeing as they are stylish, cultured people who will only add to the personality of the brand. As for future brand activity, a campaign could be created that includes different actors of the same calibre.


Admap (2003) Best Practice: using brand image. Admap Magazine, January 2003, issue 435 Carrigan, M and Attalla, A (2001). The myth of ethical consumer – do ethics matter in purchase behaviour? Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol 18, Issue 7, pg560 – 577 Crane, A & Desmond, J. (2002).

Societal marketing and morality. European Journal of Marketing. Vol. 36, Issue 5/6, p548-569 Dean, D. H. (1999), “Brand endorsement, popularity, and event sponsorship as advertising cues affecting consumer pre-purchase attitudes”, Journal of Advertising, Vol. 28 No. 3, pg 1-12 de Chernatony, L. (2006). From brand vision to brand evaluation:strategically building and sustaining brands. London: Butterworth-Heinemann.


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