How brands are celebrating yet another socially distanced St. Patrick’s Day
While some bar and restaurant lockdowns have lifted across the country, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day is looking much like last year’s, which occurred slightly after the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. This year, many bars remain closed or have shut down entirely and, for the second year in a row, St. Patrick’s Day parades are canceled. As a result, business is expected to suffer. Market researcher Numerator projects that 27% of consumers plan to spend less for St. Patrick’s Day.
Like last year, alcohol brands and other marketers tied to the holiday are hosting virtual events and emphasizing their followers to observe the holiday safely in campaigns that also revolve around themes like inclusivity, wellness and sustainability. Brands such as Guinness, Jameson and Tullamore D.E.W. have launched social campaigns that are raising funds for communities hit the hardest by the pandemic, such as restaurant workers and bartenders.
Below, a look at what some brands have planned.
Last year for St. Patrick’s Day, as parades were postponed and alcohol brands began feeling the impact of restaurants and bars shutting down due to the pandemic, Guinness put out one of the first unifying spots around the pandemic, stating: “Don’t worry, we’ll march again.” With parades still canceled and many bars closed, this year Guinness is donating $600,000 to organizations fighting food scarcity like Team Rubicon and has a new campaign out that “toasts” individuals who have become heroes of the past year, such as those on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Called “#AToastTo,” the campaign ncludes a social push, out-of-home ads and TV commercial that began airing at the beginning of March. The spot from Quaker City Mercantile showcases how Guinness has been helping out over the past year, especially highlighting how its Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore has been donating more than 25,000 loaves of bread to the Maryland Food Bank on top of monetary donations. “This is a day we all get to be Irish,” says the spot. “That’s the magic of St. Patrick’s Day.” The brand is encouraging people to share who they are toasting to using the hashtag #AToastTo and tagging @GuinnessUS on social media. Guinness is giving an additional $1 for every post (up to $100,000) on top of the $600,000.
The beer brand is also selling St. Patrick’s Day gear in a partnership with Carhartt. It also created animated stickers for people to share created by Holler in messaging keyboards and Venmo and is bringing bagpipers to cities across the country for random celebrations in the streets.
"We won't quite be able to march again this year, but we can give thanks to the people who have raised us all up since last St. Patrick's Day – through our words, but much more importantly, through our actions," Nikhil Shah, Guinness brand director, said in a statement.
For many people working from home during the pandemic, work hours have become blurred with time off—and the feeling of burnout is common. This year, Pernod Richard brand Jameson is out with a campaign dedicated to getting people a real break. A campaign introduces the world to Jameson SPTO—St. Patrick’s Time Off. The Irish whiskey brand partnered with comedians Retta Sirleaf and Joe Lo Truglio to launch a PSA-type spot that began appearing across social media in February (Sirleaf also appears in a cocktail demo). For those who take time off, they can enter to win $50 at JamesonSPTO.com. For each winner, Jameson is also giving $50 (up to $50,000) to the Restaurant Worker’s Community Foundation, on top of $150,000 the brand is already donating to the nonprofit.
Jameson is also providing out-of-office messages people can use on the day, selling St. Patrick’s Day merchandise and hosting a free virtual concert at 8 pm EDT on March 17 with musician Jessie Reyez and Irish artists like Kojaque and Denise Chaila. The virtual concert asks for donations to nonprofit Al Otro Lado, which supports refugees and migrants in the U.S. and Tijuana.
"We're not here to tell you how to celebrate, just that you should celebrate on March 17th. We hope everyone joins us in putting their own spin on safely connecting, because like our smooth, triple-distilled whiskey, St. Patrick's Day is meant to be shared!” Pam Forbus, Pernod Ricard CMO, said in a statement.
Green-dyed beer is a tradition for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. In an effort to support an environmentally greener future, Budweiser is flipping the script on the tactic and instead, will be “turning beer ‘green.’” The Anheuser-Busch brand is pledging to cover the cost of electricity to brew beer in the U.S. for one day using renewable energy credits.
Monica Rustgi, VP of marketing at Budweiser, says Budweiser is brewed with 100% renewable electricity from wind power, and is inviting other brands to join in the effort by 2030. “As one of the world’s biggest brands, we’re committed to reducing our environmental impact, and through this campaign, we invite others to join us in helping to change the beer industry to be a more sustainable one,” she said in a statement.
Tullamore D.E.W. created its own socially-distanced bar in the middle of the Mojave Desert and dubbed it “O’Everyone’s.” Except, the bar really wasn’t for “everyone.” The William Grant & Sons brand decided to take a shot at competitor Jameson and invited a California-based family with the last name of Jameson to legally change their name to Tullamore in order to win a one-day get-away to its miniature Irish pub, with meals and music included.
Tullamore D.E.W. is also extending an invitation for every family with the last name of “Jameson” to temporarily change their name to “Tullamore” on social media on March 16 or 17 to raise money for nonprofit Another Round Another Rally, which provides funds for hospitality workers out of work due to the pandemic. For every post, the brand will donate $100 (up to $50,000). The brand also matched the profits from now sold-out $25 shirts which could be personalized by any last names preceded with an “O,” such as “O’Doolen.”
Irish whiskey brand Bushmills is encouraging people to buy drinks, whether its online, takeaway or in-person. The brand has a social campaign called “#FirstWhiskey,” where people can upload receipts from Bushmills purchases at www.Bushmills.com/FirstWhiskey to be reimbursed up to $6. The brand is donating $1 for every whiskey redeemed in March (up to $25,000) to the USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, following the company’s previous $200,000 donation earlier this year. The brand has also teamed with Trip Advisor on custom discovery guides in U.S. cities to pinpoint where anyone can find their #FirstWhiskey.
Who says alcohol brands have the authority over St.Patrick’s Day? Naturally, General Mills’ Lucky Charms is here to make the holiday magical for kids through several partnerships with Crocs, Hasbro and Cold Stone Creamery. Crocs is selling Jibbitz Lucky Charms-themed charms, Hasbro has come out with a limited edition Lucky Charms version of Candyland called “Lucky’s Charmworld” being sold for $16 on Lucky Charms’ website and Cold Stone Creamery is selling gold glitter ice creams and shakes with Lucky Charms on top. In February, in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, the cereal also started hawking a limited-edition cereal which turns milk green, promoted in a national TV and social campaign.
The tourism arm of Ireland is celebrating the annual holiday with a virtual pub night since overseas travelers are still exempt from visiting the country. The 90-minutes broadcast will start streaming at 9:30 p.m. EDT on March 17 on social media from three pubs in Ireland: Johnnie Fox’s in the Dublin Mountains, the Duke of York in Belfast and Dick Mack’s in Dingle. Hosted by TV presenter Bláithnaid Ní Chofaigh, the night will include plenty of musical performances including from drumming ensemble the Celtic Drummers, harmony group the Shamrock Tenors, and singer Róisín O. During the event, a master brewer from the Guinness Storehouse will teach viewers to pour a perfect pint and traditional dance and music will be merged with modern Irish rap at the Cliffs of Moher with spoken word artist Denise Chaila with musician Sharon Shannon.
As well as the virtual pub night, Tourism Ireland is continuing its annual initiative called “Global Greening,” now in its 12th year, where sites around the world will be lit up emerald green. This year is the largest so far, with 670 sites in 66 countries participating, such as Holland’s Kissing Couple statue and the Embassy of Ireland in London. This year, actor Liam Neeson lends his voice to Tourism Ireland’s spot celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.