Guinness Red

Liz FinnProduct: Guinness Red

People behind it:
Name: Syl Saller, Liz Finn and the Diageo innovation team

Liz Finn (right) joined Diageo from brand consultancy Dragon International as GB head of innovation last year, reporting to Syl Saller, global innovation director. Diageo has a long track record in innovation – it has launched more than a dozen new drinks since 2005 and trialled a dozen more – but recently it has had a number of misfires, including Bailey’s Glide, Slate 20, Archer’s Vea and Quinn’s. These caused a rethink by the company, which led to a shake-up in the way it runs innovation and Finn’s appointment.

Guinness RedHow innovative?
When Marketing Week revealed that Diageo was testing a red version of Guinness, some media commentators asked why the drinks giant would dare to mess around with its crown jewels. Such comments betrayed a failure to understand the drinks market or Diageo. Different variants of Guinness are available around the world, including the latest version of the in-can widget that spawned so many imitators.

Market success
Guinness Red is a smoother, sweeter tasting Guinness that uses lighter roasted barley to give it a ruby red colour. It was first trialled in 141 Mitchell & Butlers pubs across the UK and is now available in about 1,000 outlets. It is supposed to be more immediately accessible than the original “Black Stuff”, which Diageo admits is an acquired taste and which is also in gradual but longterm decline in its core markets.

How it fits
Driven by the recognition that a key brand had a problem, Guinness Red was extensively researched and tested before being rolled out on a controlled basis. It is neither a knee-jerk stop-gap product, nor was any apparent uniqueness allowed to blind the marketing team to the fact that consumers didn’t understand it or want it (as happened with Quinn’s).

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here