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Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2008

How Guinness Might Have Converted One Million

By Peter Lee
March 19th, 2008

They say it’s better to be born lucky than rich. Guinness stout definitely has the rich part down (pun intended), but it seems they were a bit short on viral marketing luck this St. Patrick’s Day.

Guinness made a valiant attempt to make St. Patty’s a national U.S. holiday with their Petition 3-17 campaign. Their argument: Since there are nine times more Irish-Americans than there are people in all of Ireland, and since people of all ethnicities already miss work on March 17th in celebration of all things Irish, all citizens should be allowed to commemorate the day from the comfort of their favorite watering hole. With “a pint of Guinness stout or two,” of course.

To present it to Congress, Guinness needed 1 million signatures by the 16th. On March 17th, they had about 300,000 — a few parades-worth of revelers off their goal.

No worries. 300k signatures of loyal brand advocates is a huge achievement. And there’s always next year, right?

So, let’s take a look at how Guinness.com was feeding the campaign’s micro-site, Proposition317.com, and see what they might do to convert a million in 2009.

Guinness Means Business!

It’s evident that Guinness means business, as a Proposition 3-17 banner owns the Guinness.com homepage:

The banner is clean, simple, and straight to the point. Unfortunately, this falls slightly flat on this landing page:

Once here, visitors aren’t efficiently persuaded to follow through from the driving point (in this case, the homepage). The homepage was exciting and bold, but it didn’t say much about the campaign, which makes this landing page especially key. Since Guinness’s site exists to support its beloved brand, we can assume that most people who visit the site are already fans of the product.

They just need to keep visitors on track to sign the petition.

Testing is Good for You

If Guinness were a client, here are a few things we’d have them test:

Tone — Rather than leading off with a “raise your pints!” attitude (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and party pictures, they may have benefited from speaking to personality temperaments other than Spontaneous (i.e., Humanistic, Methodical, and Competitive). Other parts of the site do speak to Humanistic visitors by explaining why it’s important to make St. Patrick’s Day an official holiday, but that sentiment isn’t clear on the landing page. Perhaps they could borrow a line or two from the other pages to make the why-you-should-sign argument stronger. (Is your site speaking to each temperament?)

Better placement of content — Eyetracking studies also show that staring faces distract visitors. People immediately look to the center, then the flashing signature moves the eye to the right, then down to the quotes and pictures of other supporters. Meanwhile, the “Sign the petition” Call to Action is all the way on the opposite side of the page.

Make the Call to Action eye-catching — The Call to Action needs to persuade and entice people to sign-up, but theirs is encased in a dark gray button and overpowered by the total signatures. Saying something less generic, like “Make it official,” might yield better results.

Try counting down instead — This last one’s more of a hunch, so I’m curious to know whether any of you might find it more persuasive to sign the petition if they had it counting down from 1,000,000 (a pretty daunting number) rather than counting up. Example: “Only 650,048 signatures needed to make St. Patrick’s Day official. Don’t just sit there, tell your friends!”

Could Guinness have met their goal? I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to find out, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the meantime.

Proposition 3-17 may have missed the mark, but it wasn’t a failure. Anyone else fancy a pint?

. .

[Editor's Note: Anyone familiar with the so-called "luck of the Irish" knows that success requires hard work and dedication. Such is website optimization. You should test your luck.]

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Comments (13)

  1. It’s a shame they didn’t get it- that would have marked the first time in history that an alcoholic beverage supplier held precedence over the US government. I agree with you that they coulda done a lot more from a viral marketing standpoint- like there was no bold Super Bowl commercial, no front-page Youtube presence. In fact, like a lot of people I didn’t even hear about this until a week before the freakin’ holiday itself. Ah well, maybe next year boys.

  2. “Guinness made a valiant attempt to make St. Patty’s a national U.S. holiday. ” March 17 should be a national holiday due to the fact it is my birthday. I have the record for websites….. a lot of page views,,, few clicks. The holiday would make me feel like Warren Buffet.

  3. That is a fabulous idea and it’s a shame we didn’t see it ourselves. They could have networked this a lot better via social networks no? 2009 they should certainly have their 1 million if they do it right!

  4. Absolut should make an attempt to make Midsummer Eve a national U.S. holiday.

    When you read this, V&S, remember where you heard it first!

    Speaking of which, some extra goodies for V&S:
    http://www.webanalysts.info/webanalytics/the-third-grokdotcom-challenge/

  5. Actually, they *were* counting down. I guess when they realized how far they were from a million, they went to counting up just so people could at least see that 350k people agreed

  6. “Marketing better” can always bring more people to your website, but we need to recognize that it takes more than just traffic to achieve your business goals. Persuading visitors to take action is the name of the game.

    Pablo – Thanks for pointing it out that Guinness was actually counting down. I wish they had tested the tally, along with the rest of the Proposition 3-17 micro-site. Maybe they would’ve met their mark, or at least optimized for their next campaign.

  7. I agree with your many points above. I did actually go on and sign the petition but I actually missed the call to action the first time through. When I went back to the same page it had refreshed and there was a new face and new signature and once again it distracted me from the call to action.

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  11. That is a fabulous idea and it’s a shame we didn’t see it ourselves. They could have networked this a lot better via social networks no? 2009 they should certainly have their 1 million if they do it right!

  12. Guinness made a valiant attempt to make St. Patty’s a national U.S. holiday. ” March 17 should be a national holiday due to the fact it is my birthday

  13. more than just traffic to achieve action the first time through. When I went back to the same this your business goals. Persuading They could have networked call to

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