Holidays provide an opportunity for brands to develop creative advertising, public relations programs and holiday-themed communication. St. Patrick’s Day, a day which celebrates Ireland’s patron saint, often finds brands showcasing Irish heritage in advertising. Popular Irish-based alcohol brands such as Guinness and Baileys frequently use the holiday as an opportunity to promote their brands in a festive way. From advertising to public relations, brands have taken to social media, digital billboards and more to showcase their best for St. Patrick’s Day.
In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five”– an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary – we look at brand communication for St. Patrick’s Day. A breakdown of St. Patrick’s Day as a “big business,” holiday campaigns of different brands, how three brands used different strategies to encourage St. Patrick’s Day brand engagement and how Dublin Airport took to social media to defend St. Paddy’s Day are all covered in this week’s post. We also look at why major beer brands pulled their sponsorships from major St. Patrick’s Day parades.
St. Patrick’s Day is becoming a widely celebrated holiday across the United States, and is proving to be a valuable sales, marketing and public relations opportunity. The holiday has seen more than a 10 percent increase in the number of Americans celebrating from 2010 to 2013. In addition to the “39.6 million Americans who claim Irish heritage,” those without roots in Ireland partake in the large-scale celebratory activities as well.
According to the infographic in the article, the estimated total spending in the United States on St. Patrick’s Day reaches $4.7 billion, with an average American spending $35.27 on decorations and green attire. In addition to holiday spending, “revelers around the world consume 13 million pints of brand favorite Guinness,” contributing to the $245 million “U.S. beer sales alone.” Visit the article for more St. Patrick’s Day stats.
Brands crank up St. Patrick’s Day campaigns (PR Daily)
A lot of brands used St. Patrick’s Day as inspiration by creating witty holiday campaigns. Guinness incorporated designated drivers into its holiday campaign, and used #TAXI in its advertising to promote responsible consumption and “get[ting] home safe.” While many St. Patrick’s campaigns are created by “booze brands,” others such as Aerva, a digital signage company, promoted their brands through the holiday.
Aerva posted user submitted photos to a display in “the most public space in the United States, New York’s Times Square.” After the photos showing off participants’ “Irish-ness” were posted, “a link to [their] personal St. Patrick’s Day photo, taken from high above Times Square, is returned to [their] commemorating the occasion. The keepsake photo is shareable with friends and family across [their] social networks, like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest, or can be downloaded directly through various one-touch sharing icons.” For more about creative holiday campaigns, and to learn about how a law office used St. Patrick’s Day messaging, visit the article.
This article highlights a problem many brands have: “Brands often struggle to hit that elusive mix of creative, timely content relevant to their audience that still directly aligns with their brand.” However, it also highlights three brands that have overcome the struggle with their St. Patrick’s Day campaigns. Baileys, Tourism Ireland and Brennans Bread incorporated different tactics into their holiday strategy to meet the needs of their target audiences.
Baileys incorporated recipes and high-resolution drink images into their holiday campaign to earn more than 3,700 likes and 1,000 shares on Facebook. According to the article, “The high quality image stands out in the Newsfeeds of users and offers something relevant to the occasion they can actually use – and share with friends. And they did! The recipe was one of two St. Patrick’s Day posts by the brand, the other another image wishing everyone well.” Visit the article to learn how Tourism Ireland and Brennans Bread created successful holiday campaigns.
Dublin Airport called attention to a common mistake associated with St. Patrick’s Day. The airport took to social media to remind celebrators that the proper abbreviation of St. Patrick’s Day is “St. Paddy’s Day,” not “St. Patty’s Day.” It posted a “notice” image onto its Facebook page, which outlined the proper name for the holiday and poked fun of the common “St. Patty’s Day mistake.” While it is a common mistake in the United States, Canada and other countries, the misspelling is taken seriously enough to inspire the creation of this Patty vs. Paddy page, and for the Irish airport to call attention to it.
After posting the image, Dublin airport engaged with followers “with some very light sass,” according to the article. One user posted that “it’s easy [to] see” the confusion with the spelling, to which the airport quipped: “Ah John, don’t be going soft on us now. A small child can be taught the difference between Paddy and Patty.” Visit the article for more interactions with followers.
Not all the publicity surrounding the St. Patrick’s Day was positive. Three major beer sponsors – Sam Adams, Heineken and later Guinness pulled their sponsorships from the Boston and New York Parades due to anti-gay stances. Boston Beer, the makers of Sam Adams, started the movement when the planning committee for the Boston parade would not lift the “long-standing ban on the participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups.” The decision to withdraw sponsorship came after it was rumored that gay bars and eateries in the Boston would boycott the brand during the parade due to their lack of support.
In their statement, Boston Beer explains its withdrawal: “We have been participating in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade for nearly a decade and have also supported the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast year after year… We were hopeful that both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible.” More about the Sam Adams withdrawal can be read via the article.
Faith Goumas is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.