“Friendship” by Guinness — Not So Friendly?

I recently came across an incredibly moving commercial on a TED blog post called “Ads Worth Spreading”. Out of the ten well-done ads featured on the TED blog, my favorite was “Friendship” for Guinness.

I loved how the ad juxtaposed stirring music to rough visuals of grown men sweating and wheels chair crashing, almost as if the viewer knows that there is more to the story than just men intensely focused on their game. The announcer does not speak until more than halfway through the ad, which builds upon the already intense emotions of the basketball game. The ad’s heartwarming message about the choices we make for friendship and brand’s values/image is seamlessly tied together by the message about one’s choices about loyalty and friends are what reveal the true nature of our character.

According to Ace Metrix, the spot was the most effective TV beer spot during the third quarter of 2013. I encourage you to check the ad out for yourself, you may experience some different emotions than I did!

Yet, with any widely talked about brand communication, there always seems to be backlash. According to AdWeek, there was some initial backlash from paraplegic activists about the commercial’s portrayal of people in wheelchairs. These activists were unhappy with what they felt the ad alienated people in wheelchairs by making them seem as though they were “lesser” men that needed other people to conform to their way of playing basketball.
So Loyola, how do you feel about this ad? I loved the commercials use of music, visuals, sound effects, voiceover, and all around heartwarming message about friendship. On the other hand, I can see the point that the unhappy activists were making about the ad’s portrayal of the man in the wheel chair as pity, rather than solidarity between bros.

Do you think the ad is making an offensive comment about people in wheelchairs? Or, like me, do you believe that the point is more about friendship and eliminating differences between friends, sports, and bonding time over beer?

Basketball | Ads Worth Spreading | Watch | TED. (2013, November 29). Retrieved October 24, 2014.
Heine, C. (2013, October 3). Guinness’ Wheelchair Basketball Ad Spun Circles Around Competitors in Q3. Retrieved October 24, 2014.

3 thoughts on ““Friendship” by Guinness — Not So Friendly?

  1. I agree with you and the others that were offended by this commercial it can be seen in a negative connotation due to the sensitivity of the topic. However, I don’t think Guinness is trying to be offensive, but rather attempting to show how its beer can bring about stronger friendships and loyalty.


  2. I think the ad was positive and in no way intended to portray the wheelchair bound as “lesser.” An ad can’t please everyone, and unfortunately when it comes to sensitive subjects such as the disabled, it is easy to put one’s foot in one’s mouth. However, in this case some paraplegic activists just saw an alienating ad. I think how people are portrayed in ads can be like holding up a mirror, and sometimes it is hard to face certain truths. This ad shows the strength and fortitude of the wheelchair bound, and how there are opportunities for community and friendship. There is still life after an accident, although no all wheelchair bound person’s can be as athletic as these guys in the commercial, the commercial is about friendship. We all know that ads for fashion and beauty brands are often times unrealistic. The standards demonstrated beauty ads cannot be attained by everyone, and so it is the same case with Guiness commercial. Not every paraplegic or disabled person who relies on a wheelchair will be able to be apart of a neighborhood basketball team, but they can be apart of a supportive group and have friends, and still have fun.


  3. I agree that the ad signifies friendship and loyalty. I will continue to feel strongly about this – nowadays, people will come up with any sort of excuse to find the negative in things. Instead of looking into the deeper message, they have such a narrow minded view. I guess I cannot speak on behalf of paraplegic activists because I will never understand what they are going through, however, Guinness did not have the intention of creating this uproar. When seeing this, I did not think any less or any differently toward paraplegic people.


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