The Truth About Guinness

Being true tourists, we toured the one and only Guinness Storefront located here in Dublin. This morning’s site visit was on the more untraditional side in comparison to our past site tours, but equally as important for learning the context of business, entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as dimensions of high/low culture. After touring, I wanted to highlight elements of Guinness that I believe to tie into a common theme of this trip.

In 1996, Guinness released their initial campaign titled, “Not Everything in Black and White Makes Sense.” As a part of this campaign, they later released a TV ad “Bicycle” in which the idea was to challenge the perceived image of society. The commercial opens with a group of women drinking in a bar. In a flashback, the women performing jobs that are traditionally associated with men. For context, Patricia Dunn, an Australian writer, social activist, and filmmaker quoted, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” The next shot shows a an empty maternity ward accompanied by a fish riding a bike along the pier. So, what is the point of this you may ask. As we focus on the “recipe” for success, this ad pulls along the lines of having an entrepreneurial mindset as well as demonstrates a high context culture. I picked up on this high context culture approach to marketing the brand as very much an Irish way advertising. Often, people in the United States do not have the patience or time to interpret abstract or high context ads. Rather, I feel we seek out things that don’t “beat around the bush” or in general terms get straight to the point. During this time, the ad positioned Guinness as a “surprising, challenging drink supported by cutting-edge advertising.” Seeing a fish riding a bike definitely elicited a laugh from me since it is not everyday you see well a fish on a bike. However, it goes deeper than that. In my opinion, the interweaving of high context culture in the ad brings about an artistic, symbolic master piece. With that also being said, their campaign, “Not Everything in Black and White Makes Sense” caught my attention as I realized that it tied into what Dr. Kelly has taught us about success. Often, I catch myself in all or nothing thinking patterns or “black and white thinking.” In business and in life, there is not always a definitive right or wrong, yes or no, or “black and white.” In this regard, not everything on one end of the spectrum (black or white) always makes sense. With learning about success in relation to business and entrepreneurship, it is important to carry these lessons on and continue to adapt our thinking patterns, actions, perceptions, and behaviors.

On a cross-cultural basis, it is also important that I note the various types of communications that I have observed while being here. On my first night in Dublin, we went to a restaurant called the Bleeding Horse. Our waiter stated that the kitchen staff were going on break for 20-30 minutes and we would not be able to order food until later. For me, this was a shock as I wasn’t expecting to not be served food. I perceived this as rude, but later on I learned that tipping is not required as the service fee is built into the costs and wages of employees. With this in mind, the work to live vs. live to work comes into question. Also, we may have come off as rude or demanding to the waiter. Traditionally, it is more common for the Irish to take their time in pubs or restaurants and enjoy their interactions whether they be with one another or with the staff. Another thing I have observed is that many of the Irish don’t particularly say hello on the streets or in passing. I learned that American niceties here may be perceived as disingenuous or being “fake.” Instead, most encounters or interactions I have had with the Irish have been very straight to the point which still takes me aback. From these encounters and observations, I have learned that while I am typically good at reading the room in America, in Ireland the differing styles is still new to me. In theory, it makes sense since this is such a juxtaposition to everything I’ve ever know. Understanding the psychology of other cultures which attributes to their styles is an area I want to improve upon. Being that I like to observe people, I think adapting my own style by having an open mind could be beneficial and more effective when interacting with differing styles.

Also, didn’t see any black cats today, but happy Friday the 13th.

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