by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) Once again, we’re featuring Guinness on Ad of the Week. Previously, we chose “Sapeurs” as it was just such a beautiful, unique piece of work, and its appeal was so universal and classy that it couldn’t be ignored; this time, the latest offering targets the younger segment, themed on a Kanye West song.

Guinness TVC "#MadeofBlack" screengrab: Black is an attitudeThe online creative includes a funky dedicated website and a fantastically produced music video.

The song is “Blkkk SkkkN Head” (aka ‘Black Skinhead’) — for which West produced a very intense music video. West’s song is very much a socio-political statement, with all the attendant aggressiveness which is that rapper’s territory, but the Guinness version takes the edge off and presents a much more positive message.

While Kim Kardashian’s husband is all militant, with ironic black KKK symbolism and snarling wolves [and explicit language — ed-at-large], Guinness is all about creativity and self-love.

Isobar SSA, AMV BBDO & BBDO Africa TVC for Guinness: “#MadeofBlack”

Original Kanye West “Blkkk SkkkN Head” video [warning: explicit lyrics]

Guinness is a well-established brand in several African countries, having been brewed in Nigeria since 1962, where it is considered a Nigerian brand. African sales of the dark brew exceed those of Great Britain and Ireland — and now account for 35% of worldwide sales.

Unsurprisingly, the marketing strategy is very different in different territories, focusing on its traditional Irish roots and pub culture in the British Isles, while celebrating heroism and personal power in the seven-year Michael Power campaign in Africa.

The campaign was launched end of August 2014 with an ‘MTV takeover’ — a Guinness/MTV Base co-production which was broadcast simultaneously on 12 satellite and terrestrial channels across Africa. This was the kick-start to an extensive through-the-line campaign which is rolling out across Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

Guinness TVC "#MadeofBlack" screengrab: soccer sceneThe idea behind it is to “promote key conversations around ‘what is Black’ in a new positioning for Guinness on this continent”, according to the official press release. What this translates into is engaging with up-and-coming young individuals, be they artists, entrepreneurs or sports people, and using social media platforms to look at their concept of ‘Black’.

Sparking conversations

Within the first six hours of launching the campaign, the hashtag #MadeofBlack had sparked over 22 000 conversations, and the organisers estimate that by the end of the launch six-week phase, it will have achieved over a million conversations.

According to Michael Zylstra, group planning director at Isobar SSA, the campaign celebrates ‘Black’. It’s a mind-set; it’s a way of life. Black represents the best of Africa. “People who are made of Black are people who are made of more,” he says.

Guinness TVC "#MadeofBlack" screengrab: painted faceThe website,, features some of these people and their stories, including Nigerian rap artist Phyno, Kenyan model Ajuma, South African skateboarder Thabo Nage and Botswanan rockers Botswana Bikers.

But getting back to that video. The Kanye West theme is incredibly catchy, and the visual treatment in this production is simply stunning. Evocative black-and-white images, such as a black body emerging from a bath of milk, contrast with bright colours and screens that spell out the message “Black is not a colour. It is an attitude.” and ending with the slogan “Made of Black”… which is an extension of the existing Guinness slogan, “Made of More”.

The production was a co-operative effort of Isobar SSA and AMV BBDO, with input from BBDO Africa.


Personally, I prefer it to the Kanye West video, which relies on the use of menacing visuals and is conceptually quite simplistic. The way in which the Guinness video is put together is exciting and visually stimulating, building in tempo and complexity to the final moment when a figure pulls the plug on the giant screen… and it goes black.

It’s futile for me to try and describe the video any further. Go and watch it, if you haven’t already, and join the conversation.

Oresti PatriciosAd of the Week, published on MarkLives every Wednesday, is penned by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki), the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research.

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