The Sweet Shop in action for Guinness Korea

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An inappropriate content warning is the first thing the viewer sees when checking out this Korean Guinness ad out of The Sweet Shop on Youtube. But god knows why – it’s essentially a sharply edited dance-style video containing nothing inappropriate at all.

It was directed by Korean/American filmmaker John S Park, who worked to a brief that called for “a participative campaign that challenges consumers in South Korea to experience the #TasteOfBlack.

Guinness, as one of Diageo’s biggest global brands, enjoys a brand loyalty around the world that most beers could only dream of.

However, in South Korea the bulk of the beer market presently lies in local lagers. Guinness – while being well established there already – is still in relative terms a small player.

As such Diageo needed a category-transforming idea and campaign that would help expand trial and distribution of the brand within both the on and off trade, and importantly build further interest and love across a broader section of drinkers in Korea.

With a huge focus on bars and supermarkets, Diageo turned to creative agency iris London to help get the ‘liquid on lips’; position the brand to a wider  audience – and to express the first time experience of drinking Guinness.

#TasteofBlack is a fully integrated campaign, with participation at its core, that tackles the main barrier for those Koreans who have not yet tried Guinness – the perception of an overly strong or challenging taste, provoked by its black colour.

“Rather than just using a triple-A celebrity to stand with the drink to encourage purchase, iris focused on calling out six key distinctive (and Korean drinker articulated) taste & flavour characteristics of Guinness – smooth, deep, creamy, bold, rich and amazing – encouraging & provoking drinkers to (re)consider Guinness, propose their own description of the taste or flavour and then share their experience,” said iris global CD Shaun Mcilrath.

Using The Sweet Shop director John S Park, iris launched the campaign with a category disruptive TV film that explores the six key taste & flavour characteristics through dramatic artist impressions.  The film is supported by digital, social media, on and off trade POSM and consumer / trade promotional activity.

“The campaign includes an influencer programme with three of Korea’s biggest opinion leaders, who also feature in the film, to create their own content based on their own #TasteofBlack experience,” McIlrath said.

Dougal McGeorge, marketing & innovation director, Diageo Korea said: “Over the past 5+ years, Diageo Korea has done a great job of ‘seeding’ the Guinness brand at the top end of the beer market in Korea, leading to it becoming one of the most premium positioned and admired international beer brands in the market.

Our challenge from this point, is to kick-off the next step of the journey. To do this we needed to make a step-change in the way we communicate about and activate Guinness, and as such we sought a partner who could help us to do this. In iris we found both a strategically strong and creatively gifted team, with a great can-do attitude and proactivity, which enabled us jointly to develop and execute this striking new campaign in a remarkably short time frame, overcoming a number of complexities and challenges along the way.”

Christopher Lyons, iris Managing Director said: “Agencies and clients often talk about being category disruptive.  I believe this campaign truly does just that. It is a testament to the Diageo Korea Guinness brand team and the team at iris who had a bold ambition to engage consumers, drive participation, and create a platform – not just a campaign – so that consumers could engage with Guinness, participate with the work, & share their experience. Participation is the lifeblood of the idea, and as one of our first campaigns to launch in Seoul, this work shows just what we can achieve in this incredibly interesting marketplace.”

Consumers engaging with the campaign on social media channels will also have the opportunity to win limited edition merchandise from Guinness.

More info at


Production Company: The Sweet Shop
Director: John S Park
Executive Producer: Spencer Dodd
Producer: Jason Lee
DP: Sung Ho Jeoun
Editor: Se Jin Yoo
Service Production: Addict Films (Seoul, Korea)
Agency: Iris
Global Creative Director: Shaun Mcilrath
Creative Director: Nina Taylor
TV Producer: Laura Stageman
Strategic Planning Lead: Paul Gage
Account Director: Ross Henderson
Account Manager: Mimi Lee
Stills:Simon Way
Client: Keanu Nahm – Beer, RTD & Vodka Category Marketing Manager (Diageo Korea)
Senior Brand Manager, Guinness, (Diageo Korea): MJ Cho

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