Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: Misdirectional and Affinity Marketing

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: Misdirectional and Affinity Marketing

Celebrate the day with some green beer!

First, a little background that borders on a disclaimer: I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Irish Catholic born in the great state of New Jersey who also happens to be a brand and marketing professional. Having spent no fewer than 16 years in Catholic school – from grammar through college – I can say with some authority that I know a thing or two about a) being Irish; b) being Catholic; and c) celebrating St. Patrick’s Day the way my mom faithfully instructed us—by consuming magically delicious and mysteriously green Shamrock Shakes.

Even those of you who wouldn’t know an Irish shillelagh from Donna Shalala, you no doubt are familiar with Shamrock Shakes. This minty wonder beverage, always and only offered “for a limited time” around St. Patrick’s Day by our favorite golden arched hamburger provider, is one of the time-honored secular hallmarks of the season. Hurray, capitalism! (Who’s NOT lovin’ it?!?)

This, in and of itself, is a feat of marketing ingenuity. To my knowledge, St. Patrick—the patron saint of Ireland who wasn’t even Irish (I’m not kidding. Look it up! He was of Italian descent and born in Scotland in the year 387.)—had never tasted ice cream, let alone a shake… Much less the ethereal Shamrock Shake developed to celebrate his feast day. It makes me wonder: Did St. Patrick even like the color green? Was he a spring palette or was he more of an autumn? But I digress…

Yet, herein lies the power of branding—and the St. Patrick’s Day brand.

Ask anyone what comes to mind when they think of St. Patrick’s Day. In no particular order, you’re likely to hear:

  • Irish
  • Green
  • Drinking
  • Parades/The Parade Scene from The Fugitive (Chicago area people especially)
  • Leprechauns/Pots of Gold
  • Shamrocks

Talk about your mind share and customer alignment with desired attributes! Moreover, can you think of a holiday where people want to be affiliated with a certain nationality—so they can join the party, get drunk and invite total strangers to, “Kiss me, I’m Irish”? Me either. Although I hear there’s a strong push being made by the Inuit community for a national holiday. They even have a catchy slogan: “Nose kiss me, I’m Inuit.”

Back to St. Patrick and the shamrock… Did you know back in his day he used the shamrock as a way to teach people about the trinity? I’m sure it was meant to shake people up on the Emerald Isle. Today, that shamrock is a shake alright… Full of creamy and high calorie goodness. Thank, God!

So, if you are still surrounded by non-believers in the power of branding to reshape perceptions and associations, point to St. Patrick.

He drove the snakes out of Ireland. He brought faith and hope to millions.

And we celebrate by drinking green beer and green ice cream shakes.

Brandtastic! (BTW, what’s the Gaelic word for drive thru?)

Have a safe, happy and tasty St. Patrick’s Day!

P.S. At Paragraphs, we have many reasons to celebrate—including the birthday of our founder and patroness… Happy Birthday, Robin!

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