Papers of the Advertising Department

Repository: Guinness Archive

Identity Statement

TitlePapers of the Advertising Department
Archive ReferenceIE GA/GDB/SA01.02
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1928-1948
Extent Medium64 Items + 8 Series


Creator(s): Arthur Guinness Son & Company Limited

  • Administrative History ↴

    Arthur Guinness was born in Celbridge, County Kildare in 1725. It seems that Arthur first learnt the art of brewing from his father Richard, whose job as a land steward included brewing beer for workers on the estate of Dr. Arthur Price, later Archbishop of Cashel. In 1759, at the age of thirty four, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000-year lease for the St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin, at an annual rent of £45. The Brewery was only four acres in size, disused, and had little brewing equipment. But in only ten years, despite competition from imported English beers, Arthur began to export his beer to England. Arthur began by brewing ale, and in the 1770s started brewing 'porter', a new type of dark English beer. Arthur's porter was so successful that in 1799 he stopped brewing ale. By the time Arthur died in 1803, he had built a successful brewing business, with a promising export trade. Arthur married Olivia Whitmore, and had twenty one children, ten of whom survived into adulthood. When he died, his son Arthur Guinness II took over the Brewery. In all, seven generations of the Guinness family were directly involved in the brewery management. Arthur Guinness II developed the business, expanding the export trade, and brewing a new beer 'Extra Superior Porter'. By the 1830s, St. James's Gate Brewery was the largest brewery in Ireland. In 1855 Arthur II's son, Benjamin Lee Guinness, took over. Under Benjamin, the first trade mark label for GUINNESS® stout was introduced in 1862. When Benjamin died in 1868, his son Edward Cecil took over. Under Edward's leadership the brewery became the largest in the world. In 1886 the business was floated on the London Stock Exchange and Edward became Chairman. By the end of the 19th century the brewery had grown to sixty acres, sales of GUINNESS® Stout were over 1.2 million barrels a year, and GUINNESS® Stout was available across the world. In the 20th century the Guinness family continued to lead the business. Edward Guinness died in 1927, and his son Rupert became Chairman. Rupert's grandson Benjamin became Chairman in 1962, and was the last member of the Guinness family to hold this position, which he resigned in 1986. In 1929, the first advertising campaign for GUINNESS® was launched. More product innovations took place including the launch of GUINNESS® Draught in 1959. GUINNESS® Draught in Can was launched in 1988 thanks to the 'widget' – a groundbreaking invention in beer packaging technology. From the 1940s to 1980s a major overhaul of brewing machinery took place, making the brewery one of the most technologically advanced in the world. In 1936 the first overseas GUINNESS® Brewery was opened. It proved successful and was followed by four more in Nigeria (1962), Malaysia (1965), Cameroon (1970), and Ghana (1971). Licences were also issued to brewers in other countries so that GUINNESS® could be brewed locally. By the end of the 20th century, GUINNESS® was brewed in over 40 countries, and sold in over 150. In 1997 Guinness Plc merged with Grand Metropolitan Plc in a £24 billion merger. A new company was formed called 'Diageo' Plc. Today, 10 million glasses of GUINNESS® are enjoyed daily around the world.
  • Archival History ↴

    The Guinness Archive was established in 1998 and at this time all historical papers relating to the Company were transferred to the Guinness Archive.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Arthur Guinness Son & Company Limited ↴

    These are the surviving papers of the Advertising Department (1928 – 1939), one of the many different departments, which together formed the Guinness Company based at St. James’s Gate Brewery, Dublin. These papers relate specifically to arrangements for the advertising of GUINNESS, within the Irish market. They provide an insight into how GUINNESS advertising developed, and was managed, in Ireland.
    These papers constitute a small body of documentation, and are only a small proportion of the total amount of documentation that would have been produced. Like many of those within the overall collection, the Advertising Department’s records, have survived as a result of the efforts made by a small number of people within the Company to gather such historical documentation together until a proper Archive could be established to take custody of them. Consequently, files were often stored in locations that were not conducive to their preservation, and many have suffered damage, particularly from flooding. Despite these factors the surviving documentation provides a fair representation of the work of the Advertising Department.
    The principle responsibility of the Advertising Department was the distribution of advertising materials to trade customers within the Irish market. These materials were often based on those used within the British market, or were adapted to suit local market conditions. The decision was taken on several occasions to manufacture these advertising materials (all further references to ‘advertising materials’ refer to those produced for use within the Irish market) within Ireland, in instances where suitable suppliers could be found, in order to save on the cost of importing materials from Britain. On these occasions the Advertising Department would be responsible for locating a suitable supplier and investigating appropriate designs.
    The papers of the Advertising department, which were kept mostly in file form, fall into several distinct series, which correspond to the range of advertising materials issued. The series also highlights different roles performed by the Advertising Department, such as: acting as a channel for communication with the trade in product promotion; supervising the design and manufacture of materials, and assessing the effectiveness of advertising materials.
    In carrying out its duties the Advertising Department always maintained a close working relationship with the Advertising Office in London. The closeness of this relationship is particularly reflected in the files held by the Advertising Department on the ‘Medical Campaign’. This campaign was orchestrated by S.H. Benson’s in the years following the commencement of official advertising in 1929. It involved the solicitation of testimonials from medical practitioners, initially in Great Britain, and later in foreign countries (such as France, Belgium, Canada), testifying to the medicinal value of GUINNESS Stout.
    The ‘Medical Campaign’, remarkable in its scope, involved the circulation of literally thousands of letters to medical practitioners, and in return, thousands of replies. Typescript copies of letters sent, and the letters of reply, were retained by the Advertising Department, and were even compiled into volumes and categorised according to the nature of the recommendations provided. These comprise a series of files within the Advertising Department’s papers (GDB/SA01.02/0002.01 – GDB/SA01.02/0002.18).

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The papers within the Advertising Department have been categorised as such because they originated from within the Advertising Department and were created by them. As there were only a relatively small number of files, it has been possible to reconstruct the file series in which the files were originally created. Within each Series, files have been arranged chronologically so far as possible without dividing up Sub-series of files covering the same topics.
    Within the descriptions of each file, where possible all existing file titles and series numbers were noted. When noting the names of the authors of the files, their position within the Brewery, where possible, was also noted in brackets following their names. Once named in a description an author is then referred to thereafter in that description by their last name. The Guinness Company, in its various forms, is referred to as the ‘Company’ and the St. James’s Gate Brewery as the ‘Brewery’.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions On application to the Guinness Archivist
Conditions Governing ReproductionAt the discretion of Guinness Archivist
Creation Dates1928-1948
Extent Medium64 Items + 8 Series
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteDeirdre McParland
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions40395