For me, going to the Guinness Storehouse tour in Dublin is something of a let-down. I find it unengaging and disjointed. Admittedly, I'm in the minority here. Trip Advisor reviewers rated it the 24th best of 218 attractions in Dublin. I've been 4 times (don't ask) and I keep trying to like it, but I just can't warm to it, unlike the tour at Kilmainham Jail, which ranked 4th on the Trip Advisor list.
And it's pricey. Buy the tickets online at the Guinness website for a small discount (better than nothing) and to avoid the hordes of tourists in line waiting to buy tickets. Don't worry, though, you'll meet them all again later inside.
The best part of the whole experience, with the possible exception of the Gravity Bar and its free pint, (if you can find a place to sit to drink it) is the small room tucked off to the side on one of the upper floors dedicated to Guinness advertisments.
I LOVE the vintage Guinness ads. I love their textual simplicity and repetition of characters like the Zookeeper and lobsters and the TOUCAN. I love the toucan. But how did Guinness come to chose a tropical bird with a big beak to be the mascot of a stout beer?
The short answer is no one knows for sure. But there are some broad clues.
The Guinness Toucan first appeared in 1935, and was the brainchild of artist John Gilroy, who worked for a London advertising agency. Said Gilroy in the London Times:
"The Guinness family did not want an advertising campaign that equated with beer. They thought it would be vulgar. They also wanted to stress the brew's strength and goodness. Somehow it led to animals."
For over 45 year the Toucan was an iconic symbol of Guinness. Around 1982, Guinness decided to retire the Toucan, and go in other directions. Personally, I miss him. Although as we've moved into the digital age, some Guinness advertising is still quite amusing: