Snapshot: Guinness in Nigeria

In 1962, Guinness opened a brewery at Ikeja in Nigeria. The management was made up largely of British and Irish migrants, such as Alan Coxon, who went to Nigeria in 1966 to work as plant technical director.

We know this because his daugh­ter, Fiona Gudge, is the own­er of the large col­lec­tion of Guin­ness papers we’ve sort­ing through and cat­a­logu­ing for the past six months.

What fol­lows, with Fiona’s input, is a brief snap­shot of the emer­gence of a new kind of colo­nial­ism that emerged in the wake of Nigeria’s inde­pen­dence in 1960, and the strange dom­i­nance of Irish stout in West Africa.

Timeline

1958 | Britain agrees to grant Nigeria independence
1959 | Guinness Nigeria founded
1960 | Nigerian independence
1962 | Guinness opens brewery in Nigeria
1963 | Federal Republic of Nigeria declared
1965 | Guinness Nigeria listed on Nigerian stock exchange
1966 | Two military coups
1966 | Alan Coxon begins working at Ikeja
1967 | Beginning of the Nigerian Civil War (Biafran War)
1970 | End of Nigerian Civil War
1970 | Second National Development Plan, 1970-74
1971 | Coxon family leaves Nigeria
1972 | Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree (Indigenisation Decree)
1974 | NEPD into effect
1984 | Notice given of ban on import into Nigeria of barley
1998 | Stout production ceases at Ikeja

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Snap­shot: Guin­ness in Nige­ria”

Guinness: a nice, interesting drink for nice, interesting women, 1977–79

In 1977–78, grappling with falling sales and quality problems, Guinness commissioned yet another marketing strategy in the hope of turning things around. One idea was to appeal to young women.

We’ve just fin­ished scan­ning and cat­a­logu­ing the col­lec­tion of Guin­ness mate­r­i­al we wrote about a few times last year. These mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy doc­u­ments (there are sev­er­al) are full of fas­ci­nat­ing details, not least in the anno­ta­tions in pen­cil by (we assumed from con­text) Alan Cox­on, the head brew­er at Park Roy­al to whom these doc­u­ments belonged.

Here’s what the 1977–78 doc­u­ment says under ‘Strat­e­gy & Objec­tives – Women’:

i) To recruit to more reg­u­lar drink­ing the younger female drinker who iden­ti­fies with the assur­ance, matu­ri­ty and inde­pen­dence asso­ci­at­ed with Guin­ness for women.

ii) To reduce defec­tion from Guin­ness by rein­forc­ing the loy­al­ty of exist­ing fre­quent and less fre­quent users.

The sec­ond group were like­ly to be ‘old­er and poor­er’, the kind of peo­ple who’d tra­di­tion­al­ly drunk Guin­ness, but the oth­er group were a new tar­get:

[Younger], social­ly active and bet­ter off. Guin­ness may already be a part of their drink­ing reper­toire, though remote. These are like­ly to be C1 C2 women aged 25 to 44.

Here, though, Alan Cox­on had some thoughts of his own, neat­ly marked in the mar­gin:

I just do not believe in the pos­si­bil­i­ty of this. It is not a young wom­an’s drink, sure­ly. If we get it right it will have the wrong image for young women & sure­ly we can­not expect them to like it!!

The pro­posed cre­ative approach for appeal­ing to young women was inter­est­ing, too, based on ‘the cor­rect blend­ing of four key ele­ments’:

i) The user-image of a self-assured woman who is inde­pen­dent, socia­ble and healthy; equal­ly at ease in both a man’s and wom­an’s world.

ii) The prod­uct as a unique, attrac­tive, long drink, nat­ur­al and enjoy­able.

iii) The mood as one of relaxed and socia­ble enjoy­ment.

iv) The qual­i­ty and style of the adver­tis­ing as attrac­tive, cred­i­ble and con­tem­po­rary (rather than fash­ion­able or trendy).

The brand posi­tion reached as a result of this cre­ative approach should be:

Guin­ness is the drink for the self-assured woman.”

Final­ly, there were sug­ges­tions on how to reach women. With tele­vi­sion reserved for male-ori­en­tat­ed adverts, the idea was to place ads tar­get­ing women in mag­a­zines – ‘their per­son­al medi­um’.

How did all this go? For­tu­nate­ly, we have some handy fol­low-up infor­ma­tion, from the next year’s mar­ket­ing plan, cov­er­ing 1978–79. It sug­gests that dou­ble-page spreads did run in wom­en’s mag­a­zines (we’d love to track some of these down) and that they were felt to be suc­cess­ful enough to con­tin­ue with.

An amus­ing punch­line, though, is a restate­ment of the mar­ket­ing objec­tive:

The pri­ma­ry task of the adver­tis­ing is to change atti­tudes about the kind of woman who drinks Guin­ness: to over­sim­pli­fy, ‘Guin­ness is a nice, inter­est­ing drink which is drunk by nice, inter­est­ing women.’

UPDATE 08/03/2019: Jon Urch, who works for Guin­ness, sent us a copy of one of the ads, which we’ve now added as the main image above.

Studying Beer History – Hoarding, Stealing, Learning to Let Go

Various books and magazine from the last 40+ years of CAMRA.

Even if you’re the first to share a nugget from the archives on social media doesn’t mean you discovered it, and almost certainly doesn’t mean you own it. And sharing is good for the soul.

We spent a large chunk of Sun­day scan­ning doc­u­ments from the Guin­ness col­lec­tion we’ve been sort­ing through so we could share their con­tents with a schol­ar work­ing on a book about stout.

For us, there’s a thrill in set­ting this infor­ma­tion free, not least because we know that when it comes to tech­ni­cal brew­ing his­to­ry, we’re far from being the best peo­ple to inter­pret sources.

But per­haps if this schol­ar was­n’t some­one we sort of know, and admire, we’d feel dif­fer­ent­ly.

In the course of research­ing two books, only one per­son refused to share source mate­r­i­al with us. Though it frus­trat­ed us in the moment, we do under­stand: seri­ous his­to­ri­ans are too used to hav­ing years, even decades of research repack­aged, and usu­al­ly mis­rep­re­sent­ed, by dilet­tantes, TV pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies and hacks.

Both acad­e­mia and pub­lish­ing are com­pet­i­tive worlds, too, so there are all kinds of rea­sons peo­ple might unearth some­thing juicy and want to stake a claim, at least until after the next paper or book is pub­lished.

And the inter­net in par­tic­u­lar swims with par­a­sites, sav­ing and repost­ing and steal­ing and repost­ing until there are no pix­els left in any­thing.

Only this week we saw Liam’s hard work inves­ti­gat­ing the his­to­ry of Irish brew­ing exploit­ed by a copy-and-paster and felt his pain.

We quite often notice things we’ve shared here turn­ing up else­where with not so much as a ‘via’ or a link, some­times with the SOURCE water­marks we painstak­ing­ly added snipped off or blurred out.

We might tut a bit but we can’t real­ly com­plain. After all, even if we spent mon­ey and time acquir­ing the source mate­r­i­al, and even more time scan­ning, tidy­ing up and upload­ing it, we still don’t own those images or words, or the his­to­ry they encap­su­late.

Inter­pre­ta­tion, com­men­tary and nar­ra­tive – those you, or we, can right­ly stake a claim to, but the source mate­r­i­al ought to belong to every­one.

Even then, we’ve learned to let a bit of pil­fer­ing  go, per­haps with a vague belief in the idea of kar­ma: the research we take is equal to the research we make and all that.

So, if you’re sit­ting on orig­i­nal doc­u­ments relat­ing to beer and brew­ing, such as mag­a­zines, busi­ness papers, orig­i­nal pho­tographs or brew­ing logs, we’d urge you to do what you can to share some or all of them.

It might just be a blog post flag­ging their exis­tence, or some­thing more sub­stan­tial. Just get it out there.

And if you draw on some­one else’s research do try to be gen­er­ous with links and shout-outs and thank-yous. It does­n’t take a moment or cost much, it helps peo­ple trace sources back to the root, and, again, that kar­ma thing applies.

Final­ly, if you think we might have some­thing in our col­lec­tion that could help with your research, do drop us a line.

A partial list of what’s in our library
  • What’s Brew­ing, 1972–1977 (par­tial); 1979–1997, com­plete
  • A Month­ly Bul­letin, 1953–1956, 1960–1972
  • The Red Bar­rel, Wat­ney Mann, var­i­ous edi­tions 1950s-1970s
  • The House of Whit­bread, var­i­ous edi­tions 1940s-1960s
  • Guin­ness Time, var­i­ous edi­tions 1960s-70s, plus scans of indi­vid­ual arti­cles 1950s-60s
  • numer­ous odd issues of oth­er brew­ery in-house mag­a­zines 1920s-1970s
  • CAMRA Good Beer Guide, 1976 onward

Draught Guinness 1958: Two Casks, One Tap

Draught Guinness™ is something different to draught Guinness. Exactly how it worked, and how it changed over time, has long puzzled us. Now, we at least have a clear explanation from one point in time – 1958.

The edi­tion of Guin­ness Time for spring that year includes a four-page arti­cle, heav­i­ly illus­trat­ed, on draught Guin­ness. It clears up some of the con­fu­sion we felt when we wrote this piece a cou­ple of years ago based on a sim­i­lar arti­cle from 1971.

Men working with metal casks.
‘T. Byrne and A.E. George cleans­ing casks under the super­vi­sion of Fore­man L. Elliott.’
1. Wood gives way to metal

It begins by set­ting out the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion around met­al and wood­en casks:

Although a few Pub­lic Hous­es still serve Draught Guin­ness ‘from the wood’, is is now nor­mal­ly set out in Stain­less Steel met­al casks. The devel­op­ment of met­al casks suit­able for con­tain­ing Draught Guin­ness was not as easy as it may sound and it involved the intro­duc­tion of new taps and oth­er asso­ci­at­ed fit­tings. The orig­i­nal inven­tor of the equip­ment was Mr J.F.T. Barnes, the founder of Uni­ver­sal Brew­ery Equip­ment Ltd… but many improve­ments in design were effect­ed by the late Mr E.J. Grif­fiths and J.R. Moore. The tran­si­tion from wood­en to met­al casks, which attract­ed a great deal of crit­i­cism dur­ing the ear­ly days just after the last War, has now been vir­tu­al­ly com­plet­ed and is accept­ed every­where.

There are hints of the Soci­ety for the Preser­va­tion of the Wood yet to arrive, in 1963, and this helps us pin down when ‘beer from the wood’ became a com­mon phrase.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Draught Guin­ness 1958: Two Casks, One Tap”

GALLERY: Guinness Time in the 1950s – design of the times

The set of Guinness papers we’ve been sorting through for their owner includes a fairly complete two-decade run of Guinness Time, the in-house magazine for the brewery at Park Royal.

While the con­tents is on the whole fair­ly dull (egg and spoon races, meet the toi­let atten­dants, and so on) the cov­ers are works of art, redo­lent of the peri­ods in which they were pro­duced.

Those pre­sent­ed below are all from the 1950s and so there are a cou­ple of ref­er­ences to TV, the hot trend of the day.

Guinness Time Summer 1956 -- a topiary seal.
Sum­mer 1956. Illus­tra­tor: Tom Eck­er­s­ley.
A man uses a giant bottle of Guinness as a telescope.
Autumn 1956. Illus­tra­tor: John Gilroy.

Con­tin­ue read­ingGALLERY: Guin­ness Time in the 1950s – design of the times”