Ad of the Day: Guinness Tells Athletes’ Dark Stories in Gripping Ads for Rugby’s World Cup

The transformative power of team sports ... and beer?

The struggle to feel secure with your identity and be your best self is the theme of two short films created for Guinness by AMV BBDO in London. The ads, part of Guinness' overarching "Made of More" campaign, debut ahead of the Rugby World Cup. (Guinness has long sponsored the sport in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.)

Ruby legends Gareth Thomas, the former Wales captain who came out as gay in 2009, and Ashwin Willemse, who escaped the deadly gang life in South Africa for the rugged glory of the pitch, make stirring subjects.

"Living a lie, that's what became really confusing," Thomas says of the days when he hid his sexual orientation from his teammates and legion of fans. "Three million people of the nation. All wanting to be captain of Wales. All wanting to be me, yet me wanting to be any one of them."

Willemse's story is equally engaging. "Where I grew up, you have gangsters cruising the streets, hoping to find the next potential victim," he recalls. "And I was the [kind of] people that they preyed on: young, come out of a fatherless home, a lack of self-confidence. I tumbled headfirst into all the trappings that world had to offer."

Each narrative surges toward personal triumph. That's no spoiler. We know in advance how these scenarios will turn out. (We're watching Guinness ads, after all.)

That knowledge doesn't diminish the power of the work, which mixes interviews and dramatizations with rough-and-tumble rugby action. The pacing and proportions are absolutely right, and the spots never feel sentimental or contrived.

Ultimately, Thomas and Willemse discuss how the love, acceptance and support of teammates and fans allowed them transcend their trials and become better human beings. In a sense, rugby helped both men solve the puzzles of their lives. By letting them see the bigger picture, the game made them whole.

That speaks to the transformative power of sports in an immensely powerful way and, by extension, elevates Guinness, simply because the brand is willing to give the athletes a forum to tell their gripping personal tales. This reminds us, in turn, that teams are composed of individuals, each with a story and a very relatable share of struggles.

Below are a set of commercial edits that explore the themes of both films in a shorter format.


Client: Guinness

Guinness Marketing Director (Western Europe) at Diageo: Stephen O'Kelly

Creative Agency: AMV BBDO

Planner: Steve Hopkins

Creative Director: Dave Buchanan

Creative Agency: AMV BBDO

Copywriter: Mike Crowe (Gareth); Toby Allen (Ashwin)

Art Director: Rob Messeter (Gareth); Jim Hilson (Ashwin)

Agency Production: Nick Godden, Jess Tranfield

Account Executive: Ben Griffiths, Laura Balfour, Chris Ferguson, Marina Lanaghan

Production Company: Stink

Producer: Malachy McAnenny

Director: John Hillcoat

Media Agency: Carat

Planner: Jackie Lyons

Music Supervision: Radford Music

Audio Post Production: 750MPH

Offline Edit Company: Trim Editing

Postproduction House: MPC

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: September 8, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT