10 classic Guinness posters

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My Guinness vintage poster in Solopress design blog

A thirst-quenching pint of the black stuff is your perfect accompaniment to these vintage Guinness posters…

Whichever way you decide to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on 17th March, a pint of Guinness is more than likely to play some part in the proceedings. But Ireland’s popular stout is no overnight sensation. Like pouring out the beer itself, it’s taken a long time for Arthur Guinness and his successors to establish this Dublin born alcoholic beverage as a global brand.

My Goodness, My Guinness

English artist and illustrator John Gilroy created this iconic series of cartoon posters for Guinness. They starred a hapless zookeeper encountering a variety of animals – such as a kangaroo, lion, ostrich, pelican and sea lion – trying to nab his precious pint or bottle of Guinness. Gilroy produced nearly 50 posters for Guinness over the course of 35 years.

My Guinness vintage poster in Solopress design blog

Image Source: Brookston Beer Bulletin

Guinness Is Good For You

Isn’t it amazing what advertisers could claim about a product back in the 1930s and 1940s. Then again, we still have The Lynx Effect being used in today’s ads. The famous phrase of ‘Guinness Is Good For You’ dates back to when advertising agency S. H. Benson took over the Guinness account in 1928. Gilroy produced this poster in 1930.

Guinness Is Good For You poster printing

Image Source: Blah Blah Blah

Lovely Day For a Guinness

Gilroy’s toucan creation went on to be something of a spokesperson for Guinness over the years, even appearing in several famous TV adverts directed by Len Fulford during the 1970s and 1980s.

Lovely Day For a Guinness retro poster

Image Source: ~Blackers33 on deviantART

After Work Guinness

Put your feet up after a hard day’s work and enjoy a soothing pint of Guinness in this striking 1960 advertisement made by English poster artist Tom Eckersley. Eckersley had previously established the UK’s first undergraduate course in graphic design when he joined the London College of Printing (now known as the London College of Communication) in 1954.

Guinness After Work ageless poster design

Image Source: Chisholm Gallery Vintage Posters

Guinness As Usual

Stout was a popular drink in Great Britain until lager, wine and spirits eventually became the nation’s favourite tipple. Back in the day, Guinness cleverly used the strapline of ‘There’s Nothing Like A Guinness’ to help differentiate their brand from the competition. This cute smiling face in the pint glass is a regular character in Guinness posters during this era. Old smiley mush reminds me of Costa’s Coffee Heads commercial that’s currently running on TV. (But done well.)

Guinness As Usual classic poster advert

Image Source: @GuinnessNight on Twitter

Have A Guinness When You’re Tired

The first Gilroy poster to feature a speedy tortoise appeared in 1936. It’s supposed to emphasise the restorative value of drinking a Guinness, rather than the lengthy 119 seconds it takes to pour the perfect pint.

Have A Guinness When You’re Tired historic poster print

Image Source: A Taxi Driver’s London

Battle of Britain

Although their worldwide headquarters were based in neutral Ireland, Guinness did their bit to help the British war effort during World War II. Not only did they boost morale with humorous propaganda posters like this one, the company even sent a free bottle of Guinness to every British soldier deployed in France during Christmas 1939.

Guinness WWII Spitfire propaganda poster

Image Source: Blah Blah Blah

Guinness For Strength

The Guinness For Strength advertising campaign kicked off with Gilroy’s popular Girder poster in 1934. Probably one of the earliest examples of a viral advert, people actually began asking for a “girder” rather than a Guinness down the pub. For this Christmas special, the girder was replaced by Santa carrying a Xmas tree.

Guinness Santa Christmas Tree timeless poster design

Image Source: Authentic Ireland

Ahoy Sailor

Gilroy’s Lovely Day For A Guinness poster series continues with the sailor and seagulls edition. We’ve all had our beer goggles on at some time or another, but I’ve never mistaken a seagull for a pint of Guinness. Yet.

Sailor and seagulls Guinness classic poster printing

Image Source: BeerShop

Guinness At Home

We’ve now reached 1970 with this Guinness At Home poster. The classic smiley face has now been transferred onto a can of stout. Check out those red & black chequered slippers to match the can’s colours. Very stylish.

Guinness At Home cartoon can poster in Solopress printing blog

Image Source: Chisholm Gallery Vintage Posters

Solopress Design Insight

“Design and printing was extremely limited in these eras and everything was done with an illustration, and very rarely a photograph,” says Julie Simpkins, one of the experienced graphic designers at Solopress. ”The copy and typefaces are also very limited, as can be seen on all the posters. Their printing back then would have been far different from the modern printing processes available now. The only one I can see that has moved forward in design and printing among these vintage posters is After Work – Guinness. But again, it is still very simple in terms of modern posters.”

Made of More

As well as these 10 iconic posters, Guinness are equally famous for their innovative television and cinema advertising. Here’s our favourite TV ad from 1994, featuring the superb Louis Armstrong song “We Have all the Time in the World” and some groundbreaking CGI for its time:

8 COMMENTS

  1. I love these old posters. Most imply that Guinness is good for you (which I am sure it is) However I am not sure that in modern day times they would be allowed to say this anymore.

  2. I raise a triumphant pint of Guinness to this fascinating collection of adverts from a golden age of advertising. Fun, involving adverts with a clever underlying message. Don’t fancy being that zookeeper in the top poster though…..

  3. Now, now – I think there was some truth in the advertising! My mum required a caesarean when she was giving birth to me. She lost a lot of blood and the doctors were desperate to give her a transfusion but she refused. Their advice was that she drink a lot of Guinness instead! Packed with iron, apparently. So it is good for you after all!

  4. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. All these posters bring back wonderful memories. They don’t make them like they used to.

  5. Really love seeing old adverts. We once went to the Museum of Advertising and Packaging in Gloucester, many many years ago. Its really amazing that some of these things managed to be kept and its a lovely look at history and far more interesting to me than looking at ornate family portraits or grand furniture in grand old houses or museums.

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