You may think that all Guinness beer commercials begin with a masculine voice, a he-man guzzling a foamy beer, and dramatic slow shots. But the latest Guinness ad campaign shows just how creative and innovative the brand really is. The ad shines a light on neon dress pants, dance halls, and the Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo.
The society, commonly called the sapeurs, began in the early 20th century when the French arrived in the Congo. NPR reports that Congolese natives who worked for French colonizers were influenced by their style of dress and self-composure. Since then, the sapeurs have been a cultural institution.
“They have a simple philosophy: to defy circumstance and live with joie de vivre,” explains the narrator in Guinness’s Sapeurs: a Short Documentary:
In a country where almost 50% of the population is below the poverty line, the gentlemen make it their mission to find enjoyment and lightness in life. What’s more, many spend most of their income pursuing sartorial success.
Photographer Hector Mediavilla tells NPR:
“Creativity is very important. It’s not only about spending a lot of money on the clothes, but also the way they speak, the way they move. … It’s a way of presenting their lives and being somebody in a society that doesn’t give you many opportunities. … It’s about [being] confident in oneself despite the circumstances.”
Although Guinness’ sapeur-themed ads may seem to stray away from their ruddy Irishman image, the Congo is actually not much of a stretch. Guinness is one of the best selling beers in Africa. Case in point: the famous Guinness toucan. The Global Brand reports that African Guinness sales first overtook Britain and Ireland (combined!) in 2004. What’s more, Africa now counts for at least 35% of Guinness’s total sales.
The sapeur spots, shot in Brazzaville, are the latest in a series of advertisements Guinness calls the “Made of More” campaign, which Fast Co. reports is “all about celebrating people who put more into life to get more out of it.”
Watch the video to see the dapper sapeurs, and then go put on a tie and top hat.
[via Ad Week]