To Martha! – A marketers thoughts on Arthurs Day

Arthurs-Day-Marketing

Guinness has for a very long time been known for its iconic marketing. From the famous toucan to the funny dance guy in the 90s. So the fact it’s latest effort has been fully embraced far and wide is no huge surprise. Arthurs day was born in 2009 and has grown ever since both here in Ireland and around the world. It is a marketing coup of a scale rarely seen anywhere.

Arthurs Day – Self Sustaining Marketing

Guinness have created an entire self sustaining and self financing day of celebrations of their main product and have usurped the entire population and diaspora of ireland as well as it’s customers as brand ambassadors. It is quite a stunning achievement.

Imagine people paying to go to events around the world designed specifically to celebrate your product and brand. Now imagine that because of the buzz of the events you organise that many other “unofficial” events will also spring up on the same day of celebration as those who sell your product work to take advantage of your marketing efforts, and work to promote them as well. All with the aim of selling more of your product. Mind blowing.

They have managed to keep themselves not only as usually the main sponsors of the main events at a relatively normal cost but also as the main focus of the entire worldwide event. The initial investment in this must have been huge but its a gift that may keep on giving for a long time to come (this is the 4th year). While the cost might be large the value is cumulative in so many ways. Brand awareness, brand association, social confirmation, cultural permanence, reach, and that’s before we even talk about the amount of Guinness sold on the days around the events. Much of it by people who don’t even like Guinness but who will partake for the “cultural experience”.

 Events as Marketing

Having been involved in events and event marketing over the last number of years I have been a constant proponent of events as a marketing strategy. Guinness with Arthurs Day have built an event marketing template for the ages that can be scaled down to suit a much smaller business. There aren’t many businesses it would need to scale up to accommodate.

The vision

An event that’s related to what you do. The event must be genuinely useful and their must be a need or a desire for the type of event you propose. Guinness as an alcoholic beverage are automatically related to entertainment and everyone likes an excuse to go for a great night out. Arthur’s day gives it to them.

The brand

A method of building your brand into the event in a natural way. Slapping your company name and logo all over it isn’t smart. Guinness decided to celebrate Arthur not Guinness. Think about that. Try to think sideways about your branding.

Promote & Advertise

Build up your event in the desired markets over time. “Build it and they will come” is a maxim for the movies. The hard work will be here in finding the right channels, or building them, talking to partners and press and anyone else who can help get the word out to the audience you need to reach. Build anticipation and don’t be afraid to spend money on promoting it especially in the initial year. Be brave in your marketing and ideas and try to build catchphrases or slogans that go with your event. “To Martha”  or  “Paint the town black” as the ads say.

Ambassadors

Find the people who love you and enable them to act as ambassadors. Guinness had a cultural advantage with so many Irish people identifying with Guinness. You have people like that around you too even though you might not know it. Find them, acknowledge them, love them. You’re giving them a place to gather and to bring their friends to see why you’re great.

Partners

One of the many reasons Arthur’s day is successful is that it’s not just beneficial to Guinness. They have natural collaborators in the venues, Events companies, performing artists, ticket sales companies and all the ancillary businesses that make money out of large gatherings of humanity. It’s an important lesson that others can share some of the love and some of the profits and you still get your benefit.

 Execute on the details

Don’t half ass it. Make sure the event (or main event anyway) really is great. I was at the first Arthur’s day in Dublin in 2009 with friends and I can honestly say that it really was a great night out. Most importantly it was what I expected it to be. Your event might be in education or sales or technology but meeting and exceeding the expectations of those attending has marketing value that really is immeasurable. A lot of this is just getting basic things right, if you can build on top of that then you will build thankful delighted brand ambassadors. If you do it really well you’ll be able to repeat it yearly, monthly or even weekly depending on the type of event you’re running.

Aftermath

Have the plan for follow up and further events in hand before the event happens. Don’t be left thinking “what now?” after your event has finished. For Guinness this is less important as they have little direct interaction with the end user, however the many social profiles created by Guinness and venues for the event will be full of talk of great nights had and “thank you”s.

Final thoughts

As a marketer and an Irishman I somewhat resent the usurping of “Irishness” by the guinness brand. I think it’s idiotic to have a day of celebration at the behest of a beer company. But I absolutely respect and admire the vision, the hard work and the balls required to execute on a strategy like this at this scale.

I would have one hope for Arthur’s day if it continues. That it might take some of the worst of the debauchery out of St. Patrick’s day and that it might make for a slightly more dignified celebration of Irishness on that more appropriate day.

Only slightly though no need to be stupid about it. 🙂

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