In the Doghouse

Diageo's fake Irish "Alcoholiday" to sell Guinness

October 10, 2013


In 2009, Diageo, the British multinational which owns Guinness, created “Arthur’s Day," named for the brewery's founder, Arthur Guinness, to mark the 250th anniversary of the the eponymous brand. The event is supposedly a national cultural celebration of Irish music and heritage, but in reality a cynical marketing tactic to boost beer sales. Of course, the irony of a British conglomerate buying up an Irish brand and then using Irish pride to sell them the beer was not lost on us. Apparently it wasn’t lost on many Irish musicians and journalists, who began voicing their disgust at Diageo’s PR scam preceding this year’s event and calling for a boycott.

More concerning is the reported 30% increase in ambulance calls in Dublin and 2,000 hospital admissions nationwide for alcohol-related illness after the 2012 Arthur’s Day, directly resulting from mass binge drinking. Diageo encourages nationwide drinking by raising a Guinness in Arthur’s name just before 6 p.m. As concern about alarming rates of binge drinking and alcohol-related harm in Ireland escalate, Diageo capitalizes on the country's vulnerabilities to sell more beer.

Diageo’s response to the criticism is even more outrageous. They claim they are addressing complaints about the damage and chaos by stepping up promotion of “responsible” drinking on Arthur’s Day, a clever way to promote drinking while absolving themselves of responsibility for the harm caused by a national day of binge drinking that they created.