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The Facts and Fiction Behind “the Free, the Flow, the Frothy Freshener”: The Guinness Company and the Story of Joyce’s Lost Ad

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 48, Number 4, Summer 2011
pp. 711-726 | 10.1353/jjq.2011.0085

Abstract

Abstract:

In this essay, the origins of a Guinness advertisement released in 1982 claiming that James Joyce wrote an advertising slogan for Guinness stout are explored. The search for this supposed ad is recounted here, and an explanation about why Guinness would make such an assertion is examined. A thorough investigation of materials in the Guinness archives leads to the conclusion that there is no evidence to prove Joyce penned his own slogan about Guinness stout. The conclusion is that the company put the story into the public domain to create a strong relationship with Joyce in 1982. That year was one of stagnant sales and bad public relations for Guinness, so the company took advantage of the publicity generated by the centenary of Joyce’s birth to advertise its flagship product to foreign customers and to repair its relationship with the public. This marketing strategy furthered Guinness’s profitable connections between itself and the “Joyce Industry,” helped to restore the company’s image, and created a new relationship between Joyce and commodity culture, which continues to thrive today.



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