Globalisation, Guinness and the Production of Irishness
Chapter 4. Reading Guinness: A Sign of Irishness
Over the years Guinness advertising in Ireland has moved from being a series of texts that speaks of versions of Irishness (albeit essentialist versions) to a new style of advert that says ‘global, urban, cross-culture’. What does that mean to Guinness and to Irish audiences, and how does it reflect on current understandings of the function of globalisation and identity?
Figure 4A. Circuit of Culture: Spotlight on Text. ← 67 | 68 →
Stepping onto Johnson’s circuit at the next station (texts) and having ‘a little wander about’ in that space facilitates some reflections about Guinness as a sign. I have argued that Guinness and Irishness are inextricably linked in the popular imagination (Murphy 2003a) through the origins and manufacture of the product in Dublin, through subsequent marketing strategies and advertising content and through the Irish diaspora, whose consumption of the product serves to strengthen associations for others. And I argue that Guinness is an iconic product, which, in Barthesian terms ‘connotes’ Ireland, Irishness and Irish identity. This is why Guinness drinkers and non-Guinness drinkers in Ireland and abroad talk about Guinness, Ireland and Irishness as being synonymous (Murphy 2003a).
In this chapter the focus is on the changing semiotics of Guinness advertising and its relation to Irish identity. In the popular imagination, Guinness and Irishness each acts as a signifier of the other, and the marketing and advertising of the product play a key role in this collective construction of meaning. I contend that...
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