St Patrick's Day: stout support

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: St patrick, Saint patrick's day, Guinness, Saint patrick

THERE ARE plenty of drinks brands out there with good, solid Irish heritage. Indeed, with the Celtic Tiger continuing to roar on, a marketing guru...

THERE ARE plenty of drinks brands out there with good, solid Irish heritage. Indeed, with the Celtic Tiger continuing to roar on, a marketing guru might say that Irish brands have 'great equity'.

So when it comes to the biggest day of the year for the Irish, surely we would expect to see brands like Harp and Murphy's and the new but very well-off kid on the block, Magners, clamouring for attention.

And yet many an Irish brand owner we spoke in the run up to publishing this report stated that "it would be nice to do something for St Patrick's Day, but Guinness has it all sewn up".

It is almost boring isn't it? Every year it is Guinness, Guinness, Guinness and little else. And as my colleague John Porter points out elsewhere in this report, some licensees do little on St Patrick's night but focus on sales of the Black Stuff.

It might not show incredible invention by focusing your drinks offer on Guinness that day, but in a sense you can understand why. Licensees can expect to see a sales uplift of 500 per cent on Guinness compared to any other day of the year!

And because of the fact that it falls on a weekend this year, brand owner Diageo is expecting even bigger things of its world famous stout in 2007, as Russell Jones, Guinness marketing director, explains.

"Last year was the biggest ever St Patrick's Day and because it falls on a Saturday this year the trade will be expecting this again. Last year we sold over five million pints and we hope to beat that figure this year. So we are sending over an extra 50,000 kegs from Dublin to cope with the extra demand," he says.

Thirty thousand pubs will be supplied with St Patrick's Day promotional kits which include Guinness branded hats, banners and large posters so licensees can easily promote their St. Patrick's Day event.

Additional point-of-sale material is also available so licensees can advertise in-pub viewing of Six Nations and the horse racing at Cheltenham. For the first time the kits include drinks trays to make it easier for people to carry their pints back to their friends, as well as drip mats and balloons to add to the St. Patrick's Day atmosphere.

A national TV, cinema, radio and online marketing campaign for Guinness Draught kicks off at the beginning of the month, and regional and local advertising will encourage consumers to visit their local pub on March 17 to join in with the St Patrick's Day festivities. There will also be sponsorship of local St Patrick's Day events throughout the country.

However, one brand owner that is at least trying to ensure that Guinness doesn't have everything its own way is Jameson. The Irish whiskey brand, owned by Pernod Ricard, has long played on its Gaelic roots and is looking to make the most of March 17.

Pernod Ricard says that St Patrick's Day is the best time of the year to push Jameson - with sales seeing a 50 per cent uplift over the whole of March.

In the on-trade, a series of promotions will encourage consumers to drink Jameson & Ginger. One of the mechanics will see consumers being handed a token that entitles them to a free Jameson & Ginger, courtesy of the Jameson team.

The Jameson team will be out among drinkers in the week leading up to St Patrick's Day, with sampling teams visiting outlets and distributing vouchers in three key cities across the UK.

Not to be outdone, Bushmills Irish whiskey will also be doing some promotion across St Patrick's Day. While the brand will defer to its Diageo stablemate Guinness, the Bushmills team will still be showcasing its outdoor experiential marketing events and the brand will have a presence at both the Brighton and Manchester St Patrick's Day parades.

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails, Beer

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