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John Fahy is the Professor of Marketing in the University of Limerick and Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Adelaide. He is an award winning author and speaker on marketing issues around the world.

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Entries in Arthur's Day (1)

Friday
Sep202013

Christy and Arthur have a falling out!

Legendary Irish singer/songwriter, Christy Moore has weighed into the now annual Arthur’s Day controversy by penning a hard-hitting critique of the event which he is planning to release on September 26, the same day as Guinness celebrates the fifth iteration of its 250th birthday. For a musician who lived hard and documented in song, the travails of the morning after and more, it represents quite a sober reflection. It has also been quickly embraced by Arthur’s Day critics who dismiss the event as just a cheap marketing gimmick designed to sell booze. But are these critics missing the point?

 

 

Far from being a cheap gimmick, Arthur’s Day is marketing genius. By any commercial metric you care to use, the event is highly successful. Through connecting with live music events, the brand generates high awareness and very positive brand associations. Peer-to-peer marketing through social media and the attendant public relations coverage of the event itself has been estimated to be worth around €350m annually to the brand. What tends to be forgotten is that Arthur’s day was originally conceived as a vehicle for supporting Guinness’ channel partners, namely the pubs, who have been steadily losing sales as more consumers chose to drink at home. Bringing consumers into licensed establishments at 17.59pm generates a surge in sales for the distributor and of course for the brand itself.

 

So far from being a gimmick, Arthur’s Day has been a highly successful marketing initiative which probably explains why it also generates such a torrent of criticism. To look at it in isolation each year is to miss the much more important point which is what does society deem to be acceptable behaviour by businesses. Left to their own devices, businesses will push almost any boundary that will drive an increase in sales and profit – we need to merely look at the behaviour of the world’s major financial institutions (and our own) to see that. Ireland’s sporting organisations have been campaigning hard this year against proposed restrictions on the sponsorship of sports events by alcohol companies which they are well justified in doing when events like Arthur’s Day remain untouched by regulators. More than anything, the annual outcry against Arthur’s Day shows how guilty society is of not being able to see the wood for the trees!

 

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