Guinness, Winter Olympics and the Potential of Ephemeral Advertising

January 29th, 2014

Right on time to leverage the hype of the XXII Olympic Winter Games comes Guinness’ commercial spot, “Twins,” the latest installment in the brewer’s Made of More Campaign.

Anchored around the tagline, “The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character,” the somber, perseverance-driven campaign profiles everyday characters and their triumphant bouts of spirit amidst grim realities and unfavorable odds.

Being no exception, Twins hones in on twin sisters and fellow biathletes, Tracy and Lanny Barnes. As the story goes, both siblings had been training for spots on the U.S. Olympic team. While Tracy earned her trip to Sochi, Lanny fell ill and, due to her condition, was unable to compete for her shot at greatness. In an act of incredible selflessness, Tracy renounced her spot and gave the opening to her sister.

Now, the twist: As AdAge’s article naturally sensationalizes with the headline, “Watch This Heartwarming Guinness Ad Before It Has to Vanish,” this advertisement is not here to stay. In fact, by this time tomorrow the ad will be wiped clean from every one of its outlets.

The reason? The U.S. Olympic Committee forbids anyone who is not an official sponsor from featuring Olympic athletes in their advertisements. Because Guinness is very much a competitor of Budweiser, who is an official sponsor, the brand had no other choice but to make a one-day media buy before the USOC’s ad “Blackout Period” starting on January 30th.

Created by BBDO New York, Twins ran on television, YouTube and in print ads for daily newspapers. As for an official statement, Diageo spokesman Jim Sias offered the following: “We are not doing this as a guerilla marketing tactic to ride the wave of the Olympics. This is just a really powerful, inspirational story that we think really aligns with the DNA of what the Guinness brand is.”

One could argue that while they may deny riding the wave of the Olympics, Guinness is certainly riding the crest of another entity that has recently generated a dizzying amount of coverage: Snapchat.

Yes, Snapchat – the mobile application created by two former Stanford University students that was once offered a $3 billion dollar acquisition by Mark Zuckerberg. The service, which allows people to send and receive photos and videos that self-erase mere seconds after they are opened, skyrocketed to success after its users grasped the elusive and clandestine nature of the service. Whether teasing or tantalizing, the app’s ephemeral design had consumers begging for more.

With the popularity of Snapchat so ubiquitous, it’s not completely farfetched to think that Guinness created this advertisement not as a valiant attempt at capturing a heartwarming exchange but rather a calculated marketing ploy parading around as the former. After all, people want what they can’t have, and the idea of a top worldwide brand offering up its fleeting content on a first-come, first-served basis makes for one exclusive party.

However you look at it, transitory advertising might be the next big modus operandi in the viral marketing playbook, and Guinness’ Twins just became the bellwether.

In your opinion, was Twins an honest or ulterior effort? Does the concept of time-sensitive viewership have any potential in mainstream media? Tweet us @BeOnTheBall.

Posted Under: Storytelling
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