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Katching up on the St. Patrick's Day Traditions that Perfectly Encapsulate Ireland's Global Impact

by Paudie Marum | 15th March 2024 | Communication,Digital,Food and Beverage,Marketing
Double rainbow in Ireland

For such a small island nation, Ireland has had an absolutely enormous impact across the world, and none more so than with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that paint the majority of the globe in green on March 17th

St. Patrick's Day, celebrated on March 17th, has by no small means transcended its Irish roots to become a global phenomenon. At Katch International, we love to celebrate and embrace diversity and throughout this blog, we will explore the international popularity of this day and how Ireland, a small but influential nation, has left an indelible mark on the world. From a marketing and PR perspective, it is exciting to explore the unique and quirky ways brands can leverage this cultural celebration.

Shamrocks in a field

St. Patrick's Day: A Worldwide Affair

St. Patrick’s Day, originally a religious feast day, has transformed into a secular celebration that is renowned and embraced globally. A plethora of Irish emigrants, especially to the United States, played a pivotal role in turning it into a day of revelry and Irish pride. Cities with significant Irish populations, such as Boston and New York, initiated elaborate parades that are still seen to this day, and even Chicago colours its river green in honour of the patron saint of Ireland.

The day is marked by the iconic "wearing of the green," shamrocks, corned beef, cabbage, and sometimes even green pints of tasty hops. In the UAE, and Dubai specifically, in the recent past, the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, was turned bright green to mark Saint Patrick's Day. All 163 floors of the iconic tower were lit up with a green laser to celebrate the annual festival commemorating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

Green beer

The Irish Influence Around the World

One fascinating aspect of Ireland's global influence is the ubiquity of Irish pubs. From the highest and most remote Irish bar in Nepal, nestled 3,450m above sea level in Namche Bazar, to unique locations in Ushuaia, Seoul Street in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Kampala in Uganda, Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands, and Kampot in Cambodia – Irish pubs have found their way to the farthest corners of the world. Such is the dedication of the Irish and others to indulge in their favourite elixir, at the Nepalese pub, Guinness can only reach patrons after a two-day trek through the Himalayan Mountains – now that is some journey to savour a pint of the black stuff!

Ireland's Global Impact: A Historical Perspective

The moniker "The Land of Saints and Scholars" captures perfectly Ireland's historical contributions. Despite being a small nation, Ireland has significantly influenced the world through inventions, discoveries, and mass emigration. From whiskey to the induction coil, seismology, boycotting, and even the modern submarine, Ireland has played a crucial role in shaping various fields.

Historically, the Irish have been well-travelled, with millions leaving the country in search of a better life. Irish emigration has had a significant influence on countries such as Argentina, Paraguay, Jamaica, South Africa, England, and the United States with the Irish diaspora leaving a lasting impact on these nations, shaping their culture, society, and even political landscapes.

Influential People

Beyond inventions, Irish individuals have significantly impacted the world through art, literature, sport, music, and much more. Some of the most well-known figures like W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and the lesser-known yet influential artist Jim Fitzpatrick are all from Ireland, and their works have left a lasting legacy on the world. Other notable Irish men and women include Roy Keane, Bono, Liam Neeson, Dolores O’Riordan, Graham Norton, and the infamous (or rather notorious) mixed martial artist and professional boxer, Conor McGregor.

Old Irish sayings

How Brands Have Captured the Essence of St. Patrick’s Day

Brands have adeptly embraced the spirit of St. Patrick's Day by infusing creativity into their marketing campaigns, capitalising on the celebration's thematic green palette and Irish cultural elements. One effective strategy is the creation of limited-edition products, such as McDonald's Shamrock Shake, a beloved St. Patrick's Day tradition for over five decades. In 2022, McDonald's cleverly engaged its audience by revealing the secret green shade, #cbf2ac, used in the shake and encouraging fans to share their Shamrock Shake fan art. This user-generated content approach not only fosters brand loyalty but also turns customers into active participants in the festive campaign.

Dunkin' Donuts, in 2021, demonstrated a unique take on St. Patrick's Day by introducing a matcha-flavoured doughnut. While the taste garnered mixed reviews, the incorporation of matcha aligned with the green theme of the holiday. This move showcased Dunkin's ability to tap into trending flavours and connect with the season while sparking conversations among consumers.

Traditional brands like Cadbury have also previously taken a different approach, focusing on altruism. Cadbury's 2023 St. Patrick's Day campaign in Ireland, titled "Be a Cadbury Daymaker," encouraged people to perform acts of kindness, reflecting the values of the Irish spirit. This 'anti-formula' approach distinguishes Cadbury's campaign by emphasising goodwill over conventional marketing tactics.

Guinness pint

Several other brands extended their St. Patrick's Day engagement beyond product launches. Bushmills, a whiskey distillery, cleverly herded a flock of sheep into a New York bar, each sheep humorously named after a competitor. This unconventional approach conveyed the message to consumers: "Don't be a sheep." Guinness, on the other hand, initiated a toast contest, featuring cash prizes and a grand reward of $1 million for the most creative toasts. The inclusion of celebrities in the campaign, like 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and chef Kwame Onwuachi, added star power and broadened its appeal. These campaigns are the perfect demonstration of how brands can leverage creativity, humour, and community engagement to make a lasting impact during St. Patrick's Day.

Cute sheep

As another annual St. Patrick's Day approaches, it's essential to recognise Ireland's remarkable global influence and the significance that this festival holds across the world. From its historical contributions to the modern-day festivities, Ireland has left an indomitable in far-reaching areas of this planet. With such an incredible opportunity to engage with customers, brands should seek to tap into this rich cultural celebration to create unique, fun, and memorable marketing campaigns that resonate with audiences worldwide. Sláinte! For more related updates and to Katch us covering similar topics, watch this space!

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