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A-B Joins Diageo for St. Pat's Holiday Drive

Will Support Rival's Marketing Effort Seeking Official Recognition for Annual Celebration

By Published on .

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Diageo's Guinness brand has raised eyebrows -- and, it hopes, sales -- with a petition-driven push to make St. Patrick's Day an official holiday. Now Diageo's effort is getting support from an unexpected partner: Anheuser-Busch.
Ads in print and on radio will soon complement an online petition to make St. Patrick's Day an official holiday.
Ads in print and on radio will soon complement an online petition to make St. Patrick's Day an official holiday.

A-B -- which last year acquired U.S. import rights for Bass Ale, Guiness' traditional partner in "black and tan" mixtures -- is planning a print and radio push to support Guinness' drive, according to a memo to A-B distributors first reported by Beer Business Daily.

Drinking buddies
"As the foundation of every authentic Black & Tan, Bass Pale Ale has quite literally supported Guinness for decades," the memo reads. "This year we've identified an exciting new way to 'support' our competition."

A-B, according to the memo, will support Guinness' push for 1 million signatures in favor of an official U.S. St. Patrick's Day holiday, with full-page print ads in alternative weeklies in 14 markets, as well as "nontraditional" radio sponsorships on stations popular with men aged 25-49 in those markets. The ads will begin running this week.

Despite the frequent mixing of the two brands by bartenders, the relationship between them has seldom been acknowledged by marketers.

Diageo has tended to push its Harp brand as the "tan," instead of Bass, while A-B, in its brief time owning Bass, has emphasized its obscure Bare Knuckle Stout in lieu of Guinness.

'Everybody's Irish'
"On St. Patrick's Day everybody is Irish, and everyone at Guinness is genuinely complimented by all the attention and good will being focused on our quest to make St. Patrick's Day a national holiday," said a Diageo spokesperson.
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