St. Patrick’s Day Marketing: The Good and The Bad

As we all know, marketers, advertisers and pretty much anyone trying to sell anything leverages holidays as a way to boost sales by tapping into the significant meanings and emotions that we all feel during these special times of the year.
St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. As children we are taught about wearing green in order to avoid being pinched, leprechauns, shamrocks and looking for a pot of gold at the end the rainbow. When we get old enough, we learn about green beer, and the coveted tradition of celebrating the holiday by getting blasted drunk.
Here are a few examples of really great St. Patrick’s Day marketing and some others that are, well… not. You could perhaps call the not-so-good examples of what not to do when trying to associate your brand with celebrating the traditions of St. Patrick’s Day.

The Good

1. Tourism Ireland (

The following advertisement created by Tourism Ireland ( does an amazing job of tying in a St. Patrick’s Day themed ad with visiting Ireland. It begins illustrating in images how St. Patrick’s day is celebrated when “every year the world goes green.” Then explains that “in Ireland, everyday is bathed in green.”
To sweeten it even more, they enlisted Liam Neeson to be the narrator, who not only has one of the most recognizable voices in Hollywood, but is probably one of the most famous people in the world actually from Ireland.

2. Guinness

When people think of Ireland they think of Guinness. When people think of St. Patrick’s Day they also think of Guinness. The beer maker has done such an amazing job over the years of attaching its recognition to the holiday and its home country. Guinness continues to devise great marketing tactics to strengthen its brand and association with the holiday. This year in Singapore Guinness threw a week long St. Patrick’s Day Festival where it gave away over 20,000 pints of its beer. Talk about a fantastic party that will most certainly help generate more loyal Guinness fans.

3. Game Insight

Game Insight ( a company that makes a variety of popular social and mobile games this year started incorporating St. Patrick’s Day themes into their already existing games.
In popular games like The Tribez, you can help catch leprechauns and return stolen items to build a unique tavern. In Airport City you are able and acquire ancient celtic artifacts. In Big Business Deluxe, there are quests to possess St. Patrick’s Cathedral, just to name a few examples. It’s true agility in marketing and an overall more interesting and fun gaming experience to be able to include current events and holidays into their products.
2020-My-Country  Big-Business-Deluxe

The Bad

1. Bud Light

A few days before St. Patrick’s Day, Bud Light tweeted a St. Patrick’s Day oriented message that was seen and interpreted by many as very inappropriate.
The tweet suggested that the brand thinks its acceptable to touch women without their consent and received immediate backlash. Bud Light apologized and deleted the tweet just a few hours after, but unfortunately errors like that are not so easy to recover from and can stick to how people perceive your brand.
It’s always extremely important to double and triple check how your brand messaging can be interpreted by others, especially in this day of social media where people can immediately verbalize how they feel for the entire world to see.

2. Nike Black & Tan

A few years ago back in 2012, Nike tried to market a new St. Patrick’s Day-themed sneaker they called the SB Dunk Low Black and Tan. The shoes were named after the the drink “the Black and Tan” that is made by combining Guinness with a light lager beer.
Unfortunately when Nike launched this shoe in Ireland the company failed to do the research that “Black and Tan” doesn’t have the same meaning that it does in other parts of the world and ended up offending many people.
According to the Huffington Post, in Ireland “the term is actually a derogatory term for a British paramilitary unit that was sent to stop the Irish rebellion in the 1920s and ultimately led to many attacks on civilians. The LA Times reports “it would be akin in some circles to naming a sneaker the Taliban or the Nazi.” 
Nike of course apologized after they discovered the connotation of the name, but it goes to show how important it is to do your homework on naming when introducing a new product into a culture in which you’re not entirely familiar.