Neil Foster, Guinness World Records: Bold British campaigns and the GWR brand journey

Neil Foster, VP of Guinness World Records Consultancy EMEA and APAC, discusses the company's history, evolution and record breaking brand campaigns.

Neil Foster, Guinness World Records

Guinness World Records (GWR) has become a household name. How has the brand developed over the years in terms of marketing strategy?

The GWR brand is 65 years old this year and has come a long way since the first book launched in 1955. Record breaking fascinates people and, over the years, our book content has helped us to build a multi content business with global TV shows, strong social media presence and a bestselling book.

Around 10 years ago, we noticed an influx of brands and agencies wanting to break records of their own – whether it was to be officially recognised as being the ‘best in the world’, to highlight a product attribute or a brand truth – or to provide compelling content and encourage participation. This spurred us to set up the GWR Consultancy – a specialist division that works with organisations to develop record breaking marketing campaigns. This is a big growth area for our business and we now have consultancies in each of our six offices worldwide.

With 10 record breaking campaigns from British brands and businesses featuring this year, how important is it to have home-grown brands making an appearance in the book?

We are proud that 10 British brand campaigns have made history by appearing in the Guinness World Records 2021 Book. We have multiple different language versions of the book, so these British consultancy records will be seen all around the world. Our editorial team selected these impactful campaigns from the thousands of record attempts that we adjudicate each year – it’s great to see these record-breaking initiatives being celebrated for their creativity and success.

Is there anything from this year’s British brands that stood out to you in particular?

All of the British brand campaigns that feature in this year’s book are fantastic. We have everything from the Longest line of pancakes from Kenwood to Most users to visit a virtual pub by Crowdfunder UK Ltd.

However, one campaign that does stand out for me is Honda and Team Dynamics Motorsport Ltd.’s Fastest acceleration from 0-100mph for a lawnmower (prototype). This attempt took place to promote Honda’s engineering capabilities and saw a lawnmower accelerating to speeds of over 150mph in just 6.29 seconds. The attempt attracted lots of media attention and now has pride of place in the GWR book – it also appears on our new style book cover which, for the first time this year, is animated – bringing to life our record holders in a way that has never been seen before.

Fastest acceleration 0-100 mph for a lawnmower prototype

Working with hundreds upon hundreds of companies and individuals’ submissions is no mean feat. How do you select which records make it into the book each year?

It’s really down to our editorial team – they have thousands of records to choose from every year and they work hard to find interesting attempts that will excite our readers. Every year there is a different book theme and for 2021 it is ‘Discover your world’ – finding records that match the different themes and sections of the book is, therefore, important.

GWR Consultancy keeps the publishing team updated on the latest agency and brand campaigns but, ultimately, inclusion is their decision

How important is it for companies to be creative with their record suggestions and attempts?

Our consultancy team has been set up to help brands and businesses to develop and implement creative campaigns.  Some clients will come to us with an idea, while others will want to work with us to create a campaign from scratch. In either case, we support clients through the record-breaking process – from application right the way through to adjudication and amplification.

How would you encourage more brands to reach out to you and attempt a world record?

I would ask brands to look at record breaking with fresh eyes – many see our records as book content but the achievements that we see every day are so much more than that.

Record breaking fascinates people and can be used to achieve many different marketing objectives – whether that’s purpose driven, for fundraising, to celebrate an anniversary, launch a product or communicate an often-unassailable product truth. Building a record attempt into a marketing campaign can produce content that is shared over and over again, whilst neatly showcasing to the world that a brand is officially the best.

  • Neil Foster has spent the past 25 years working in PR and integrated advertising agencies in London, Sydney and Melbourne. As VP of Guinness World Records Consultancy EMEA and APAC, he leads the creative and commercial records team, which specialises in developing tailor-made record solutions and marketing campaigns for brands and businesses.

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