Insights - Brand & Marketing - Entertainment

The Guinness Book of World Records Is Now A Branding Agency

Keeping its core proposition intact, the company has come full circle to creating content for marketing

Emirates plane covered in flowers
Emirates broke a record by having a replica A380 covered entirely in flowers. Miracle Garden, Dubai.

The Guinness Book of World Records is one of the earliest examples of content strategy.

At a 1950s Irish shooting party, Sir Hugh Beaver, then managing director of the Guinness brewery, found himself embroiled in a heated debate: Which was the fastest game bird in Europe? The inability to settle this argument sparked the idea for the Guinness Book of World Records – a compendium of facts and feats that would be used to settle pub disputes – and boost the popularity of the beer.

As we all know, the book grew to become a staple in homes and libraries around the world, covering feats that ranged from the brave to the bizarre.

Then came the Internet, and sales of the printed book crashed. Diageo acquired Guinness in 2011, and in a bid to focus on core business, spun the book division off into a separate company that had to support itself.

From Publishing to Brand-Building

The credit for the transformation at Guinness World Records (GWR) goes to Samantha Fay, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Strategy.

Keeping the core of the company intact, Fay’s team shifted focus to show companies how to to put record-breaking into bespoke marketing campaigns.

Here are some notable examples of records that GWR helped their clients break:

  1. Apple: Largest number of iPhones used in a single photo.
  2. Red Bull: World’s largest human flag, made up of 1,000 people
  3. McDonald’s: Largest gathering of people dressed as Ronald McDonald.
  4. Google: Most people simultaneously using Google Maps.
  5. Ikea: World’s largest furniture assembly marathon.
  6. Alibaba Group: World’s largest online shopping event.
  7. Panasonic: Longest-lasting battery

There are multiple Indian companies that have attempted this too.

For example, Tata Nano broke the record for covering the longest journey of 10, 218 km in 10 days. In 2022, state-owned National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) created a record for laying the longest bituminous lane of 75 kilometres in 105 hours and 33 minutes.

Emerald 7 string necklace with diamonds
Shiv Narayan Jewellers, Hyderbad broke the record for having the largest number of diamonds in a necklace

Fay claims that 95% of companies that make a world record attempt saw an increase in media coverage, 88% saw an increase in web traffic, and 69% saw an increase in sales. GWR’s own annual revenue is reportedly north of US$ 100 million.

The record-breaking service isn’t just limited to companies – individuals can apply to break records too. So if you’d like to claim that your collection of rubber ducks is the largest in the world, or that you can hold a yoga pose for longer than anyone else, the GWR site has detailed guidelines on how to do this.

Going beyond the book, there are now official GWR Days and TV shows. Partner companies also benefit from GWR’s massive online distribution: currently 9 million followers on Instagram and 11.5 million on YouTube. This is critical to the company’s success.

Even if it has come full circle – back to creating content for marketing – there’s no point breaking a record, if you can’t tell enough people about it.

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