Olly Wehring

Comment – Wehring's Way – Has Arthur's Day Had Its Day?

By | 26 September 2013

"To Arthur"

"To Arthur"

Today (26 September) is Arthur's Day, an annual celebration of the founder of Diageo's Irish stout brand, Guinness.

The day is marked by music-based events in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria and – most prominently – in Ireland, where the brand takes over Dublin for the night. The idea for Arthur's Day dates back to 2009, when Diageo looked to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Arthur Guinness signing a 9,000-year lease for the St James's Gate brewery in the Irish capital.

(That Diageo reportedly came close to selling off the site in 2007 is mentioned here purely as information for the reader.)

I remember being in Dublin as Diageo's guest for this inaugural Arthur's Day and was impressed by the genuine sense of occasion among the revellers in various venues across the city – most memorably in the hop store at St James's Gate. At exactly 17:59 (250th anniversary, geddit), the whole room raised their pints, led by Sir Tom Jones and Ronan Keating; “To Arthur”.

Happy anniversary!

Five months later, in early-2010, Diageo announced plans to promote Arthur's Day on an annual basis. "As a result of the success of Arthur's Day in 2009,” a spokesperson for Diageo told us at the time, “plans are underway to build on its success and momentum with Arthur's Day becoming an annual global marketing initiative for the Guinness brand.”

No longer was there a major anniversary to hook the event on, but so much fun had been had in 2009, Diageo probably thought, why not run it again?

Looking back, it would appear that the company kind of got away with it. Until now.

In the run-up to this year's Arthur's Day, Diageo has suffered a backlash of sorts, with some doctors, psychiatrists, youth workers and musicians in Ireland attacking the concept for encouraging binge-drinking in the country. Further, this charge has been followed today by a withering diatribe from Dublin-based Daily Telegraph columnist Mic Wright.

“Arthur’s Day is so vile because it was dreamed up by PR folk at Diageo in 2009, but is presented as a long-standing tribute to the Guinness founder,” says Wright. “It is 'celebrated' by a blitz of media and free gigs where Irish music fans have pints of the black stuff foisted on them while they listen to average indie bilge. This is Ireland as brand: Guinness is good for you and your nation, and you’d better not disagree.”

I can see his point. The initial Arthur's Day was excellent, precisely because it was celebrating an event more than it was celebrating a brand.

With each year that passes, Arthur's Day looks more like a marketing ploy and less like a justifiable reason to party like it's 1759.

Expert analysis

Beer in Ireland

Beer in Ireland industry profile provides top-line qualitative and quantitative summary information including: market share, market size (value and volume 2008-12, and forecast to 2017). The profile also contains descriptions of the leading players including key financial metrics and analysis of competitive pressures within the market. Essential resource for top-line data and analysis covering the Ireland beer market. Includes market size and segmentation data, textual and graphical analysis of market growth trends, leading companies and macroeconomic information.

Sectors: Beer & cider, Marketing – advertising & promotions

Companies: Diageo, Guinness

View next/previous articles

Currently reading -

Comment – Wehring's Way – Has Arthur's Day Had Its Day?

There are currently no comments on this article

Be the first to comment on this article

Related research

Diageo plc - Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), Partnerships & Alliances and Investment Report

MarketLine's Company Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), Partnerships & Alliances and Investments reports offer a comprehensive breakdown of the organic and inorganic growth activity undertaken by an organization to sustain its competitive advantage....

Guinness Anchor Bhd in Alcoholic Drinks (Malaysia)

Guinness Anchor Bhd aims to maintain its leadership of beer in Malaysia by constantly ensuring the product’s quality by meeting or even exceeding the demand from consumers, enhancing its distribution network while organising different marketing promo...

Guinness Cameroon SA in Alcoholic Drinks (Cameroon)

Over the forecast period Guinness Cameroon will focus on consolidating its lead in stout, and strengthening its presence in lager and RTDs. To achieve these goals, the company will invest in the development of new products and the provision of strong...

Related articles

just the Round-Up - The week in drinks

The top ten stories published on just-drinks this week:

Editor's Viewpoint – When Companies Argue about Who is Right, Both are Usually Wrong

Unless it's you that is in the middle of the melee, there's nothing more thrilling than a good old street fight; be it in the playground, in a bar, in the street... . As the two (usually) men circle each other, fists raised and ready to wade in, it gets everyone's juices going, doesn't it?

US: Scotch fear behind Diageo Tennessee whiskey row - Brown-Forman

Brown-Forman has opened a new front in its row with Diageo over Tennessee whiskey, claiming that the Johnnie Walker owner is trying to weaken global growth in North American whiskey because it threatens Scotch sales.

just-drinks tagline

Not a member? Join here

Decrease font sizeDecrease font sizeDecrease font size Increase font sizeIncrease font sizeIncrease font size Comment on this article Email this to a friend Print this page