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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Abstract

After Independence, the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland took centre stage in everyday life and its influence left its mark on the legislative and moral codes by which people were governed. However, the 1990s was the decade when its grip was irrevocably loosened. High profile scandals involving priests and bishops came to light, while the number of priests ordained continued to fall significantly. Mass attendance, particularly in urban areas, declined sharply and social mores relaxed. Marriage rates fell, while attitudes to sex before marriage relaxed and the numbers of births registered to unmarried mothers rose sharply. Legislative reform was momentous. In 1993, homosexuality was decriminalised and contraception was legalised. Having previously rejected the introduction of divorce in the 1980s, the electorate voted “Yes” to divorce in the 1995 referendum. It appeared that the sexual revolution had reached Ireland and its arrival did not go unnoticed by advertisers. In this paper, two of Guinness’s TV ads from the 1990s are analysed in the context of the social change that occurred at that time. They are Monogamy and Oysters, both of which contain plots of a sexual nature. In particular, Oysters represents a significant change in direction for Guinness’s advertising and, while it features the familiar pairing of Guinness and oysters, its imagery is far removed from Gilroy’s innocent oyster illustrations that featured in some of the brand’s earliest ads.

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