Guinness Jonathan Ross ad experiment backfires

A Guinness ad campaign, which saw the Diageo alcohol brand take over all three ad breaks during Saturday night’s (26 October) episode of The Jonathan Ross Show, was roundly criticised by viewers, with some using its corresponding #RoundUpYourMates hashtag on Twitter to call out the activity for being “painful” and even sexist.

The ad spots were set up as a Jonathan Ross interview with author Danny Wallace and Oxford University professor Robin Dunbar, discussing the findings of a research paper, commissioned by Guinness, on male bonding.

The TV media buy was also supported on Guinness Europe’s YouTube channel, with videos starring Wallace, and on the GuinnessGB Twitter account.

The #RoundUpYourMates hashtag was quickly hijacked by viewers as the ads aired (see the pick of the tweets below). The hashtag has garnered more than 2,000 tweets, according to analysis tool Topsy, but the vast majority of them were negative.

Guardian journalist Stuart Heritage tweeted: “Genuinely thought that #RoundUpYourMates would be a Ghostwatch-style spoof. Nope. Just the single worst ad I have ever seen.”

Jon Weedon, internal communications manager at, tweeted: “#RoundUpYourMates The wonderfully rich heritage of Guinness TV advertising just died tonight #ShameOnYou”.

Click here to read Diageo’s response to the campaign’s reception.

The pick of the #RoundUpYourMates tweets

@ItsMrsNeal Wow, #RoundUpYourMates is just excruciating. And yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity. This.

@ThePaulSutton The problem with #roundupyourmates? It lacks authenticity. Lack of brand relevance makes it feel contrived. Oh, and the canned laughter.

@Jack_Ashman Only just caught Guinness’ CAR CRASH of an ad takeover on Jonathan Ross … #roundupyourmates #cringe

@leemcewan Interrupting a TV show with a worse version of the same TV show devalued the TV show itself … #roundupyourmates

@RebeccaZoe Err. Guinness ad. Kind of sexist?! #RoundUpYourMates #butonlyiftheyreBLOKES

@brandnatter A legacy of brilliant #guinness adverts just gone down the drain with #RoundUpYourMates

Readers' comments (8)

  • A catastrophic decision and one which should be terminal for some poor devil. No doubt that old adage about "deputy heads will roll" will apply.

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  • I was totally put off watching the rest of the Jonathan Ross show after seeing this appalling ad. It was painful. I'm surprised the JR Show producers allowed it. I'm all for advertising experimentation - and Diageo are usually great at that - but why didn't they just try it in one of the breaks? It was very off-putting and cringe-worthy to watch.

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  • You would think that Guiness' agency would've learned from watching Tim Lovejoy's horrendous Let There Be Beer ad. Not sure this is sexist anymore than a lipstick ad is.

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  • Well done Guiness! Yes, the ad is not sexy, yes, the ad and the chaps talking (Jonathan and his guests) did not 'sell-it'. But, before we through them out with the bath water; lets look at the target audience this ad was supposed to reach - mates. Also lets consider that this campaign was what I call 'counter intuitive Guiness', meaning usually when you see a Guiness ad it sells, in this campaign I was forced to think and strangely enough, not about the beer. One cant help but wonder if Jonathan and the boys should have had a few pints before the show to 'loosen' the atmosphere, perhaps this would have charmed the critics and offended the responsible drinkers?

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  • Ad aside, this discussion is a full-on, articulated exclusion of 50% of people (read: women) as a target group. What this says more than anything is that Guinness is for men. More than foolish in the long term?

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  • Oh my goodness! Shockingly bad. And Ross is not cheap either. I thought that the 'Chevrolet Volt' dance was bad. This hits a new low. I think this is will be a stunning case study of 'a great thought badly executed' (but at large expense).

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  • While I completely understand and support the rationale behind the message (that as a society addicted to our personal mobile devices, we need to get out more and interact in person), this was the most poorly executed ad I have seen in years.It was not well crafted, look contrived and JR look ill at ease in this role, who at Diageo really believed this was a suitable brand ad. It ranks as low as some of the ads produced on The Apprentice for which everyone involved should be 'fired'.

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  • For me this does not fit with Guiness's tone of voice at all - those famous, evocative ads feel a million miles away from this. Diageo seem to have turned their back on that cinematic feel for something more instant for the gratification of the Twittersphere. It's a real shame.

    And on the actual content - bit rubbish wasn't it? Not worth the sacrifice at all.

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