St Patrick's Day Preview

St Patrick’s Day (Sunday March 17) affords a great opportunity for some of Ireland’s biggest exports. Lucy Britner rounds up the action in Drinks International's St Patrick’s Day Preview.

March 17 is a big day for Irish drinks producers. St Patrick’s Day is a global phenomenon thanks to the diaspora of Irish people – and the general warmth of Irish hospitality that has made the Irish bar a universal hit from Cork to Cusco. 

Oliver Loomes, Guinness global brand director, says: “St Patrick’s Day is a celebration synonymous with having a fantastic night out with friends, no matter where you are in the world.” Here, we look at some of the brand activity surrounding the event. GUINNESS The daddy of Irish drinks, Guinness, is to roll out its Paint the Town Black initiative over St Patrick’s weekend.

The marketing campaign stretches across TV, out of home, digital, social channels, PR and point-of-sale merchandise in bars across the globe, and even a new serve, the Black Velvet Royale. The serve was created with Bompas & Parr – the pair famous for creating gin and tonic vapour and a swimming pool full of punch – and it includes Guinness blended with cassis and Champagne. 

Think pre-dinner aperitif or Sunday brunch. The 2013 campaign also encourages consumers to create their own Paint Your Town Black personalised video. Using Google Maps and Facebook, the video aggregates the fan’s images and location to cast them in a film trailer about a Guinness-inspired night out set in a typical pub, which some people may recognise as The Nag’s Head from famed UK TV show Only Fools & Horses.

It culminates in bursts of black paint. Some 1,000 litres of ‘black rain’ and more than 600 litres (or half a ton) of the gloopy ‘black paint’ were used during filming.


Irish whiskey is booming and now that most of the brands have multinational drinks giants behind them you can expect giant campaigns. King of Irish whiskeys, Jameson, is sending a party shockwave around the world with live broadcasts from Dublin and live music acts, including the Bombay Bicycle Club. Last year saw some 200 hours of broadcasting time and it will once again do a Jameson Global Live Broadcast in an attempt to spread the Irish love.

The brand is also to encourage street-takeover and, while Guinness fans are being asked to paint the town black, the message is paint the town green from the Jameson camp and bars in selected cities will be branded Jameson. 

On the liquid front, Jameson will once again roll out a limited-edition bottle (pictured), this time designed by glass mirror designer David Smith.


In the Beam camp in the US, Kilbeggan made its national debut last year and it is to be repackaged in time for St Patrick’s Day. The packaging will be unveiled at local market tasting events in key cities including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago.

On the advertising side, the new campaign will centre around how the people in Ireland are coping with the fact that their secret – Kilbeggan – is out. According to Beam’s campaign, Kilbeggan has been Ireland’s best-kept secret for more than 250 years and now that everyone in the US knows too, it’s causing some serious upheaval with the Irish.


In the UK, Tullamore Dew will be running its Irish True advertising campaign again in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day 2013 in city centres around the UK. The campaign will be supported by a new below-the-line  creative to bring Irish True to life at point of purchase in the on-trade and off-trade.


The Teeling family, which sold Cooley Distillery and the Kilbeggan brand to Beam has launched Teeling Whiskey – a small batch blend of malt and grain whiskey – in time for St Patrick’s Day. According to the company, the whiskey has a “higher than normal composition of first-fill bourbon barrels and higher than usual ratio of malt to grain.”

The blend is further matured in ex-rum barrels and bottled at 46% with no colouring or chill filtration. Before there was Irish whiskey there was Poitín – a clear, non-aged Irish spirit famous for its alcohol strength. The Teelings have also launched a Poitín at 61.5% abv to the UK market.