You might not know his name, but you'll certainly know his art. John Gilroy was a polymath of the painting world, with a mind unlike those of his peers. Because of this, the Guinness® campaigns he brought to life from 1928 to the 1960s remain as distinctive now as they were back then. It was Gilroy's colourful artwork that moved our advertising forward. One of the most memorable was born of his creative interpretation of a performing sea lion that caught his eye at the zoo. That animal, Gilroy mused, would be smart enough to balance a glass of Guinness on its nose. This concept became one of the longest living advertising campaigns in history: "My Goodness, My Guinness."
“One of the most memorable was born of his creative interpretation of a performing sea lion that caught his eye at the zoo.”
The hapless zookeeper, a caricature of Gilroy himself, presented the family of unruly animals. From an ostrich swallowing a Guinness, glass and all, to a pelican with a beak full of bottles. A bounding lion, a thieving bear. A crocodile, kangaroo, and penguin. And, of course, most famous of all, the toucan. This evolved, via the toucan, into the "Guinness-a-day" campaign. That fans still adorn their walls with this poster today is a testament to the creative relationship between Gilroy and Guinness.
Running concurrently with "My Goodness, My Guinness"was the "Guinness For Strength" series, in which Gilroy depicted people undertaking incredible feats of strength, empowered by Guinness. The worker carrying the girder. The man pulling a cart. Iconic posters such as these were created by Gilroy up until the 1960s. And it's to this artist's different beat that all subsequent Guinness advertising has marched.