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#ConsumerCorner: Céad Míle Campaigns – How an Irish feast day became an international comms opportunity

St Patrick's Day
By Ciara McCrory
12 March 2024
Consumer Industries
Consumer Campaigns & B2B
st patricks day

For a tiny island with a small population, Ireland has had a huge influence on the world. 

The land of scholars and saints has a unique reach on the world stage – from literature, music, drink and an estimated diaspora of more than 70 million people, it’s no wonder there’s an Irish pub wherever you go. 

This influence is never felt more than this Sunday, the 17th of March - St Patrick’s Day. 

Growing up in Northern Ireland, I’ve always known the importance of the day. In my Catholic convent school, we learned all about how Patrick brought Christianity to the island and rid us of snakes and the feast day was celebrated with a prolonged mass in Irish as a youth, and with many pints of Guinness in later years. 

On the day, everyone feels a bit Irish, exemplified by a whole host of international brands jumping on the bandwagon. While it can be risky to capitalise on what is technically a religious day, some brands perfectly encapsulate the heritage of the day while embracing the spirit of the Irish. 

For brands considering capitalising on the big day, some things to consider: 

  1. Be authentic 

While it can be hard, try and embrace some authentic Irish-ness. Nothing will induce an angry Irish eye-twitch more than seeing it called Patty’s Day – it’s St Patrick’s Day or Paddy’s Day. Also, while the three-leaf shamrock is the symbol synonymous with St Patrick, the four-leaf clover has nothing to do with Ireland or the day. Word play with ‘craic’ is also dangerous territory for the uninitiated. 

  1. Tap into the spirit 

It’d be remiss not to mention Guinness when it comes to St Patrick’s Day. Sales of ‘the black stuff’ are estimated to increase by 819% on the day, with 13 million pints being pulled worldwide. Not all successfully. The brand’s simple but effective marketing captures the essence of getting together with friends and raising a toast on a day of celebration and has meant the brand essentially ‘owns’ the occasion. 

  1. Celebrate culture 

Beyond booze, there’s a lot of Irish culture to tap into. Tourism Ireland created an interactive billboard that allowed people across the globe to tap into live Irish music via a QR code. Embrace the music, culture and heritage. 

  1. Be prepared 

While the celebrations in the US massively outstrip those in the UK (see Chicago dying its actual river green), there is still a huge push on hospitality expected. There's an average of 50,000 people due to attend the St Patrick’s Day parade in central London on Sunday alone, local businesses and brands need to be prepared for extra custom and act accordingly. 

  1. Find meaning 

If your brand has an authentic alignment with Ireland or St Patrick’s Day, this is a great opportunity. However, don’t feel the need to shoehorn the celebration into your marketing or comms plan because of obligation. It’s better to concentrate on activities authentic to your voice rather than creating content that doesn’t naturally align. Lest we forget the mess social media managers got into when the Queen died. 

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit from everyone at SEC Newgate UK!