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Octopus TV Failure Awards – Guinness Light by Andrew Eborn

Octopus TV Failure Awards – Guinness Light by Andrew Eborn

In this award-winning weekly series renowned international lawyer, strategist, futurologist, producer, broadcaster and speaker Andrew Eborn, President of Octopus TV and Knot The Truth and Founder of the Octopus TV Failure Awards, shines a light on the products and services, brand extensions and campaigns that failed to take off and have as a result earned entry into The Octopus TV Failure Awards.

As Andrew points out “we always celebrate success whilst hiding the failures that led to that success. The Octopus TV Failure Awards finally give failure the attention it deserves. If necessity is the mother of invention then failure is the father of success”

“From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.”

Andrew is in high demand as a presenter, magician and speaker around the world.

Thank you for all the new nominations for the Octopus TV Failure Awards. Keep them coming.


So, here we are at the beginning of February.

We celebrated Veganuary by watching episodes of Star Trek back to back. Live long and prosper ..

We made it through dry January by limiting ourselves to dry sherry, dry white wine and dry gin

and we tried the gin diet and lost 3 days one wet weekend!

Now that we are unlocking the drinks cabinet to celebrate/commiserate, it seems fitting that in The Octopus TV Failure Awards this week we look at Crystal Guinness / Guinness Light when the dark one took a misguided journey into the light...


Founded in 1759, Guinness is now one of the most successful beer brands in the world. It is brewed in over 50 countries and is available in around 150

Over 10 million glasses of Guinness stout are enjoyed every single day around the world and 1.88 billion pints are sold every year.

Guinness is also now vegan.

Guinness, Diageo’s darling, is now the biggest ale & stout brand in Britain making a significant contribution to Diageo’s latest reported net sales for the half year to 31st December 2019 (£7.2 billion) and operating profit (£2.6 billion)

As Guinness claim “It takes adventurous spirit and irrepressible ingenuity to do things the Guinness® way. From our humble beginnings in 1759 to the present day, we’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to bring you exceptional beer.”

“ we’re continuing to experiment and innovate in true pioneering style. Our brewing methods might have been passed down since Arthur’s time, but they never stop evolving. We’ve got a lot more beer to brew.”

On its website Guinness proudly maps out its rich history and journeys into innovation.

In 1991 The Guinness® Rocket Widget was awarded the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement, beating the Internet to be voted by Britons as the best invention of the previous 40 years.

There are, however, a few glaring omissions including the dark one’s disastrous journey into the light….

Crystal Guinness

In 2011 it was announced that Guinness would launch Crystal Guinness. No doubt inspired by Crystal Pepsi - another Octopus TV Failure Award nominee

This was a response to market share lost to Bulmers Irish Cider.

Market research had apparently indicated that the dark coloured Guinness was just “too intimidating” for some. …and so Crystal Guinness - "the clear stuff” - was launched.

Endless Simmer claimed to be among the first “early influencers” invited to try the new product

Apparently, Crystal Guinness went through the same roasting process that gave Guinness stout its signature dark colour but a “secret formula” was added at the roasting phase to produce the opposite effect — a completely clear, translucent beer that “maintains Guinness’ flavour but is significantly lighter in texture, having only 95 calories per pint, and obviously looks nothing like a stout.”

Convinced ?


The date of the announcement – 1st April 2011 – was a subtle clue.

The Joke Cloak

In this post-truth era every day is April Fools. #QuestionEverything

So often fact is stranger than fiction. Many products sound as though they should be April Fool’s gags but are not.

Think about products that are the complete antithesis of a brand’s core values …

WB40 aftershave was a classic spoof

Harley-Davidson’s eau de toilette was not. #HogWash

Toucan (Geddit?) play at that game ….

Some extensive research following a well-informed tip off and nomination for The Octopus TV Failure Awards – cheers, Pat Savage! - led me to Guinness Light.

Guinness executive P.J. McKenna claimed the low calorie Guinness Light should appeal to younger people moving more to ales and lagers.

At the fabulous futurist launch at St James’s Gate Brewery on 26 June 1979 models dressed in space suits emerged from a space ship to serve pints in the presence of Dublin’s then Lord Mayor, William Cumiskey.

The advertising campaign used the tagline "they said it couldn't be done."

..and indeed it couldn't.

Guinness Light was such a spectacular flop The Irish Times called it “The HMS Titanic of stout products".

As one critic put it the taste could not have been less appealing – it was enough to drive you to drink!

Alien girls with a product that alienated Guinness’ customers…

..and so as quickly as it appeared, Guinness Light was ushered back on to that space ship and disappeared to go and explore Uranus…


The dark one’s journey into the light was a failure. For that reason Guinness Light is this week’s nomination for The Octopus TV Failure Awards.

My goodness!

See you next week for more fantastically fabulous failures ….

Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewEborn and @OctopusTV

Send your nominations now

From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.

Send your nominations with full description and images to

In addition to international recognition and glittering prizes the winners will be featured in The Museum of Failure and receive the much valued TOFA.

We shall provide a regular update including through the Andrew Eborn weekly column

Andrew Eborn is a lawyer, strategic business adviser, producer, writer, presenter, magician and speaker. Andrew has specialised in international licensing and global rights’ management for several years and has been actively involved with the negotiation, acquisition and international exploitation of various major licences enabling companies to maximise the return on their rights as well as assisting with the strategic development of their international businesses.

Andrew Eborn is now working with several businesses across the IP value chain including the creation and licensing of content in all media from recording, publishing, distribution, supply of talent, management, promotion, immersive technology and holograms.

Businesses include:

Octopus TV Ltd ( award winning company revolutionising the way content is created and distributed) @octopustv

Knot The Truth Ltd ( KTT) with RJ Gibb, son of Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, launched in Cannes. KTT already has a strong line up of programmes, tv, film and music productions, live events, theatrical shows and holographic experiences.

Andrew Eborn is a columnist, broadcaster and regular presenter and speaker around the world

Photographer: Corrado Amitrano

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