#RoundUpYourMates: Why a Lack of Authenticity & Relevance Cost Guinness

#roundupyourmatesJude wasn’t the only storm that trended on Twitter in the UK this weekend. Guinness launched its new marketing campaign during Saturday night peak TV viewing to a flood of criticism.

The campaign hashtag, #roundupyourmates, garnered in the region of 2350 tweets inside 24 hours (source: topsy). Unfortunately, however, the vast majority of them were wholly negative, critical and dismissive in sentiment and tone.

In fact, scanning back through the dialogue it’s hard to find anything positive at all other than from the protagonists themselves. Here’s just a taster of some of what people were saying. And boy did they hate it:

So why did a (presumably multimillion pound) campaign bomb in such spectacular fashion?


The Guinness brand personality is built around creativity, inventiveness and distinctiveness. People expect a lot from Guinness and are used to being wowed. Its ads are normally an ‘event’. Remember this?

The cool atmosphere, the black and white cinematography, the uber-distinctive Letffield soundtrack and, above all, the story all came together to make this, arguably, one of the most memorable ads of all time. It’s epic.

But tick does not follow tock does not follow tick when it comes to being blokey, and therein lies the issue for Guinness. It’s a brand that cannot authentically instigate blokey conversations about being with your mates. It’s not part of its brand persona, with or without Danny Wallace fronting it.

Blokiness is owned by Carlsberg. And #roundupyourmates felt exactly like something Carlsberg would do. And, in fact, already has, numerous times. But Guinness it is not.


#roundupyourmates felt contrived and condescending. Because it was so far removed from what we’ve come to expect of Guinness, it felt like the brand was trying to slide something by us, despite the fact that the branding was very obvious and intentional.

The ‘science’, if you can call it that, upon which the concept was based was shallower than a baby’s bath. Basing an entire ‘scientific study’ around one single 5-a-side football match is frail on an epic scale. A sample size of one is hardly statistically significant. And the audience saw straight through it in the blink of an eye. Treat people like they’re dumb and the result will always be the same.

Given the weakness of the underlying science, the inclusion of Professor Robin Dunbar also jarred. Was the fact that the man has a number named after him supposed to provide the credibility that the statistics didn’t? If so, it failed. There was no explanation of the true science whatsoever, and repeatedly stating “because science says so” fools no-one.

And then there was the canned laughter, which jarred hugely with the live studio audience present in the programming either side of the ad break in which it was screened.

All in all, #roundupyourmates failed on many, many levels.

Guinness made a ham-fisted job of joining paid and earned media. And the lack of both authenticity and brand relevance made it feel like the audience was being sold at. And no-one likes being sold at, do they?

Perhaps worse than all of this, from the Guinness Twitter profile, silence:

If you didn’t see the ad, here’s what the fuss is all about. What do you make of the campaign?

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Posted by Paul Sutton

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