St. Patrick’s Day an excuse for marketers to sell everything

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St. Patrick’s Day is an annual celebration of all things Irish, but some marketers are promoting a side of Irish culture that many people find offensive and destructive.

McDonald’s introduced the Shamrock Shake for St Patrick’s Day in 1970 as a way to inject excitement into an otherwise slow period for cold dessert sales.

Marketers use St Patrick’s Day as an excuse to sell almost anything, including party supplies…

…or a Savannah, Georgia, injury attorney or an Irish convenience store chain.

But the main beneficiary of the St. Patrick’s Day pot of gold is alcohol, and specifically, one brand of alcohol.

Revealing the true meaning of the holiday, this ad shows three young men bounding out of bed, rushing downstairs to their decorated St. Patrick’s Day tree, and tearing open presents which all turn out to be Guinness.

Then type on the screen says “Treat St. Patrick’s Day like a real holiday.”

Considering the amount Guinness spends promoting the event worldwide, it’s easy to get the impression that the company invented St. Patrick’s Day or at least owns the rights to it.

But even in Ireland, there’s growing controversy over the blatant celebration of rampant drinking, especially among those affected by alcoholism and drunk driving.

So you can imagine the response when Guinness launched Arthur’s Day in 2009 to celebrate the opening of Arthur Guinness’s brewery on Sept. 26, 1759. The day is heavily promoted in 30 countries with ads like this.

In Ireland, it’s marked by free concerts, binge drinking and a 30 per cent increase in ambulance calls.

Sickened by the implication that in order to be truly Irish, you have to be truly drunk, Irish artists like The Waterboys and Christy Moore recorded protest songs.

But in spite of such criticism, Guinness continues to encourage enthusiastic alcohol consumption on St. Patrick’s Day and any other holidays its “advertising men” can come up with.