Which brands have craic'ed their St Patrick’s Day campaigns over the years? From going green for the day to limited edition products, let's take a look at some of the most creative campaigns from Paddy’s Days gone by...
On and around the 17th March, brands around the globe look to tap into the luck of the Irish with the hope of driving sales and awareness during St Patrick’s Day.
Pre-pandemic, Brits spent an estimated £5.9 billion on the big day back in 2019, while our friends across the pond in America spent a whopping $6.16 billion. As the first year without any restrictions, this year’s celebrations are set to be bigger and better than ever.
Now, it’s easy to think that St Patrick’s Day isn’t relevant to your brand if you don’t have any connection to the Irish, however that doesn’t have to be the case. Let’s take a look at how brands of all sizes and sectors have celebrated the big day with their customers in a creative way.
1. Guinness - 'All Together with Guinness this St. Patrick’s Day'
We couldn’t talk about St Patrick’s Day without mentioning Guinness, considering around 13 million pints of the stout are served around the globe in celebration of the big day - that’s 819% more than any other day of the year! As a brand, Guinness repeatedly delivers simple but oh so effective marketing campaigns, and St Patrick’s Day is no exception.
Last year, with much of the world still under some form of Covid restrictions, their TV ad (which was also shared on social media) tapped into some of the lessons learnt from the pandemic such as treasuring the opportunities to come together with friends and family, as well as supporting local communities. Rather than focusing on the product alone, they kept the spotlight on how Guinness connects people and offered hope for when we could all reunite again.
This year, in their All Together with Guinness this St. Patrick’s Day campaign, the story continues with scenes of friends and family in pubs singing together, rediscovering the magic we’ve missed. There’s nothing like a classic hit record being sung by people simply enjoying being back together to spark joy and excitement for this year’s celebrations. And for that, it’s one of Extreme’s favourite St Patrick’s Day campaigns.
2. Lucky Charms - limited edition boxes
The popular breakfast cereal has released not one, but two limited edition boxes in celebration of St Patrick’s Day and their mascot, Lucky the Leprechaun.
The first promises to transform your morning bowl into an Irish-themed delight, with four leaf clover cereal pieces turning the milk green, packing St Patrick’s Day into every bite. The second is a ‘Traps and Treats’ box, which includes all the parts for a leprechaun trap ready for customers to set up at home.
This is a great example of using a brand character to tap into trends, awareness days and events. As is our next example…
3. M&S - Colin the Caterpillar cake
Now an icon in his own right, Colin the Caterpillar is always getting in on the action, receiving multiple outfit changes throughout the year in line with national holidays such as Halloween and Christmas.
For St Patrick’s Day, he’s had an Irish makeover, now donning four leaf clover chocolate pieces, his very own leprechaun hat and a scattering of white and green chocolate beans.
With over 56.9m views of #ColinTheCaterpillar on TikTok, and a following of almost 35 thousand on Instagram, his loyal fan base can expect to see his new outfit across their newsfeeds, as well as in the press across regional and national titles.
Forks at the ready, Team Extreme all want a slice!
4. Vault City Brewing - ‘Apple Soor’ beer
An Edinburgh-based brewery has launched a luminous green beer that tastes like Apple Sours just in time for St Paddy’s Day, injecting some Irish into every sip.
This eye-catching PR stunt has caught the attention of the press and the public alike - including us here at Extreme.
Bars and pubs across the UK have stocked up on the green stuff, ready to serve to customers throughout the day. Consumers can also drink it from the comfort of their own homes, with the first 250 online orders receiving a free shot glass, a perfect addition to any St Patrick’s Day celebration.
The beer is the latest in a long line of experimental beers from the Portobello-based brewery, and we can’t wait to see what they do next!
5. Pandora - lucky charm
High street jewellery retailer, Pandora, are well known for their range of charms and customisable bracelets.
Throughout the year, they create limited edition seasonal charm edits as well as ranges themed around blockbuster hits such as The Avengers Endgame and Disney classics.
For St Patrick’s Day, they’ve launched a four leaf clover charm symbolising love, hope, faith and luck. Crafted with sparkling green crystals against a shining sterling silver setting, each leaf forms a heart in the clover and is the perfect gift for loved ones (or yourself) celebrating the big day.
Creating limited edition, themed pieces is a great way to drive sales around set times of year, while tapping into topical events and positioning you at the forefront of conversation amongst your customers.
6. McDonald's - The Shamrock Shake
It’s a special time of year for fans of the fast food chain, with the return of the well-loved Shamrock Shake for a limited time only.
Back by popular demand, the McFlurry version that made its debut back in 2020 will also be available, which combines vanilla soft serve ice cream mixed with Oreo cookie pieces.
This year, McDonalds also decided to unveil the secret to the milkshakes’ unique green hue, announcing the specific hex code for a colour now known as Shamrock Shake Green.
The return of the shake has sparked conversation across all major social channels, most notably on TikTok where creators are recording themselves tasting the Shamrock Shake for the first time, amassing hundreds of thousands of views since its relaunch.
In a press release, McDonalds wrote, “The minty green hue makes the 'will-winter-ever-end' blues go away,” and we at Extreme can’t wait to take a sip!
Simply adding a green hue to food and drink, whether it’s through food colouring or natural ingredients, is a great way for those in the food and beverage industry to tap into St Patrick’s Day with little effort. With shoppers already in the mood to celebrate, you can capitalise on the spirit of the day, driving sales and brand awareness should your creations be eye-catching enough.
7. Chicago - their annual green river
When it comes to St Patrick’s Day, the city of Chicago doesn't do anything by halves.
Each year, the river system that runs throughout the city is dyed green to celebrate St Patrick's Day. This tradition began back in 1955, and to this day amasses huge crowds who stand to watch the water transform into the bright green hue as a result of a harmless dye used to protect the ecosystems and environment in and around the river.
While not necessarily a marketing campaign, the annual event attracts hundreds of thousands into the city, benefitting local businesses and trade. The hashtag #ChicagoRiver has also been used over 315 thousand times on Instagram, and has been viewed over 67 million times on TikTok, proving that putting on a large-scale spectacle is certainly one way to get people talking.
8. An Post - ‘Adam’s Virtual Hug’ postcard
And last, but by no means least, one of our favourite St Patrick’s Day campaigns of all time comes from An Post, who this year partnered with lockdown legend Adam King to create ‘Adam’s Virtual Hug’ postcard.
Adam stole the hearts of millions when he appeared on the Late Late Toy Show back in 2020. He introduced us to the Virtual Hug, a heart-shaped sign he carried during the pandemic to help him stay connected to his teacher while he was learning from home. He also brought it with him to his regular hospital appointments to show his doctors and nurses that he was still giving them a hug, just in his own way.
This month, post offices across Ireland have been stocked up with more than 2.5 million of Adam's beautiful 'Virtual Hug' postcards. Customers of all ages have been invited to pick up a free postcard, simply add a stamp, and send love to family and friends anywhere in the world.
On top of being a thoughtful gift, for every card that gets posted An Post will make a donation to Temple Street Hospital – a Children’s Health Foundation – and Cork University Hospital Charity, meaning that those who share the love via a postcard will also be helping children across the country.
This is a brilliant example of a brand developing a partnership with someone current and relevant who is also inline with their values. Not only does this charitable act build brand reputation, positioning An Post in a positive light with customers, it also allows them to have a positive impact on the communities they operate in.
Everyone here at Extreme HQ loved this campaign, and were inspired by Adam’s thoughtfulness.
Is your brand helping customers celebrate St Patrick’s Day in one way or another? If you need help coming up with seasonal campaigns that excite and engage consumers, get in touch! Our team of experts are on hand to help.
Whether she's creating some incredible blog content or identifying another awesome PR opportunity, Nuala is always looking for ways to grow our clients' brand awareness. With a degree in marketing from Sheffield Hallam, Nuala joined team Extreme as a Marketing Executive, then making her home in the PR and Content team.