The 17th of March is St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s fair to say that people will be celebrating all over the world with a Guinness or two. It’s a feel-good day, with those partaking in the celebrations embracing fun and vibrant atmosphere.
From events in local pubs and bars to street parties, everyone is out having a great time. And as with any seasonal celebration, there's a raft of marketing opportunities for savvy companies who are on point with their communications.
Just look at the numbers: 39.6 million Americans claim Irish heritage, which is nearly seven times the population of Ireland. Overall, 60% of people from the US (190 million) are expected to celebrate St Paddy’s Day, with spending likely to reach well over $5 billion.
It’s impossible for brands to ignore numbers that are in the millions and billions, which is why St Patrick’s Day offers an excellent opportunity for brand exposure. And social media is one of the best places to grab people’s attention and infuse them with some St. Paddy’s Day spirit.
Here are seven brands that absolutely smashed it out of the park with their St. Patrick’s Day social media marketing.
1. Guinness: Make St. Patrick’s Day the Friendliest Day of the Year
It would have been impossible to start this post off without a nod to Guinness, a brand that goes hand-in-hand with St. Patrick’s Day. They could have done nothing and still sold shed loads of pints, but sitting back and resting on their laurels isn’t in the brand’s DNA.
Rather than direct adverts telling people to buy their beer, Guiness emphasized community. With the creation of an interactive infographic, Guinness championed friends and families coming together and making St. Patrick’s Day “the friendliest day of the year”.
The infographic included facts and figures about the brand’s worldwide reputation and people’s involvement in what is arguably Ireland’s most famous day. People were able to share the graphic across social media and help spread the word.
To top things off, they entered the book of world records for successfully creating the friendliest day of the year. Selling pints is one thing; creating folklore, a feeling of community, and a lasting reputation for your brand is invaluable.
2. SEMrush: St. Patrick’s Day themed marketing crossword
What does a software service company which specializes in search engine ranking have to do with a day of drinking and celebrations? Quite a lot, it turns out. In 2017, SEMrush got in the mood with a St. Patrick’s Day-themed crossword and gave away a Guinness gift set to selected winners.
They shared the crossword across social media, making it as easy for people to interact and play. And while many wouldn’t necessarily associate a crossword puzzle with St. Patrick’s Day, SEMrush cleverly tapped into the interests of their core audience, while adding another dimension with the link to the big day on March 17th.
The Guinness gift set prize was an extra incentive to get people on board, in what was already a clever marketing ploy. That people still hold the campaign in such high esteem two years after its initial conception goes to show how marketing efforts around big events can create longevity.
3. Bailey’s: Kiss Me, I’m Irish
Who says that Guinness is the only alcoholic brand that can have all the fun on St Paddy’s Day? Not Bailey’s, who captured their social media audience’s attention with a fun marketing campaign designed to get people a few extra kisses.
The “kiss me, I’m Irish” moniker is a common phrase associated with St. Patrick’s Day and has featured in the cultural lexicon on many occasions. Bailey’s made the shrewd move of using it in conjunction with their brand to build on their following and promote a particular flavor of drink.
Bailey’s Irish Cream is a flavor of whiskey from the famous brand, and so it made sense to create marketing communications around St. Patrick’s Day. The brand designed a bespoke Facebook app that centered around the popular “kiss me, I’m Irish” theme.
There were no lucky charms needed for a kiss however, with participants downloading the app and using it in conjunction with their profile pictures, which inserted the words, “kiss me, I’m Irish and so is my Bailey’s”. Everyone who took part was automatically entered into a competition to win a t-shirt with the “kiss me I’m Irish” moniker printed on it.
4. Tourism Ireland: Global Greening
With St. Patrick’s Day being an Irish event, it’s only fair that Ireland Itself reaps the rewards. Tourism Ireland was looking for a way to ride the waves on the back of St Paddy’s Day, and get more people thinking about Ireland as a genuine holiday destination.
They did so by using the globalization of St. Patrick’s Day to their advantage. Since its inception in 2010, the campaign has featured landmarks across the world displayed with a luminous green light that represents Ireland.
What started with the Sydney Opera House and Sky Tower in Auckland has grown to 240 landmarks in 45 different countries. And its success has been unprecedented, with 7 World Trade Centre at Ground Zero in the US, the Nelson Mandela Statue in South Africa, the Great Wall of China, London Eye in England, and Galeries Lafayette in France just some of the landmarks to participate.
Whiskey brand Jameson got right to the core of St. Patrick’s Day and decided to promote the local bars that play such a pivotal role in the celebrations. The concept was pretty straightforward, yet effective - Jameson posted short videos on Instagram, showing local bartenders making drinks
The bartenders also discussed how their city celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, providing a bit more insight into how each US city approaches one of the world’s liveliest traditions. The impact of such videos is twofold: Jameson benefits as everything links back to the whiskey brand, but the bars also gain extra exposure, which helps to bring new customers.
With video becoming such an integral part of (by the end of 2019, 80 percent of global internet consumption will be video) of social media, Jameson made sure they got in the act and created content that speaks to the community, as well as those looking to celebrate St Paddy’s Day.
6. McDonald’s: Shamrock Shake
A brand knows it's found a pot of gold when it creates organic hype around a product. McDonald’s has the financial muscle to flex it with the best of them when it comes to marketing, but all it took was a St. Patrick’s Day themed milkshake to send the internet into a frenzy.
Every year McDonald’s releases its 'Shamrock Shake' in the month leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. The shake is essentially a mint chocolate chip milkshake, but adding the Irish-theme creates an aura around it - and people want to get their hands on the shake.
So much so, that the hashtag #shamrockshake regularly trends on social media, as people ask when it will be available. Others can’t wait to take a snap of themselves enjoying it, and giving McDonald’s a shout out in the process.
7. M&Ms: Miss Green
Over the years, M&M’s have brought their brand to life thanks to cute cartoon characters representing their chocolate. To celebrate the festivities around St Paddy’s Day, the chocolate brand created Miss Green, and gave her a story that centered around their campaign.
The story starts with M&Ms ‘spokescandy’ Miss Green embarking on a tour of Ireland to find her long lost cousins, who were 12 times removed. During her search, she comes across iconic Irish landmarks and embraces local culture.
Creating the Best St. Patrick’s Day Campaigns
You don’t need to be a mega-brand to get in on the St. Patrick’s Day marketing wave. All you need are some key traits to stand a better chance of connecting with audiences. Keep it light and fun, as St Paddy’s Day is a time for fun a celebration.
Encourage participation, and get your audience feeling involved with your brand to create a sense of community. Lastly, keep it simple: there’s no need to come up with overcomplicated campaigns. Instead, find a link to St Patrick’s day - whether it’s an already-famous slogan or embracing the color green - and run with it.
The result could very well see a spike in the participation of your followers across social media, who want to embrace St. Patrick’s Day by interacting with your brand. And if that happens, everyone will be saying “top of the mornin’ to ye” with a spring in their step.