Arthur’s Day Controversy

A lot of people are getting their knickers in a twist over the Diageo promotion campaign called Arthur’s Day, and I can see both sides of the argument.

Correction: I can see two sides of the argument.

stoutI have as little insight into the mindset of the marketing suits behind the campaign as I would have into the foraging instincts of a Caribbean lobster.  Marketing people don’t inhabit the same planet as the human race, so let’s forget them right now.  If it can be crass, it will be crass, as they demonstrated recently with their insane ad based on a wheelchair basketball game.

So let’s just agree that marketing people are reptile-brained cynics who’ll do anything for a buck, and let’s move on.

The two sides of the argument that I’m concerned with are the pro- and anti- people, and to be fair to them, each has a valid point of view.

On the pro side, people are saying that Diageo isn’t forcing anyone to get drunk.  If you end up in A&E, it’s because you personally went bonkers on the liquor.  The Guinness didn’t force itself down your throat.  And besides, what’s wrong with a day out?

The anti side will tell you that we already have a bad enough alcohol problem in Ireland without promoting even more excess.  They’ll say, correctly, that this is a multinational London-based company seeking to piggyback on the Irish identity by portraying all of us as united in admiration for their product.  Paddywhackery, in other words.  And that’s true too.

So where are we going with this?  People enjoy the day out, despite the cringe-inducing name.  They enjoy the music and they enjoy the gallivanting.  Musicians make a day’s pay.  Taxi drivers earn a few shillings.  Money goes round, which is a rare enough thing these days, and the economy gets a bit of a boost.  But on the other hand, some people get drunk, some get into fights and others get so slaughtered that they end up in hospital.

I don’t know, so I asked a man with far more wisdom and years than I possess, the published author of six successful novels.

What do you think of this Arthur’s Day thing?

He considered for a moment, in his special way.   To my mind, there isn’t enough drunkenness in Ireland anymore, he said.


Let me put it to this way, he said.  When was the last time you remember a man walking down the street taking one step forward and two steps back, while singing a happy song at the top of his voice?

I can’t remember seeing that for a long time, I agreed.

Precisely, he said.  We’ve lost all the old traditions.  I blame Europe.

One way or another, the campaign has been an unqualified success for the marketing reptiles who managed to drag five years out of a one- or two-year plan before being shot down by the uber-sanctimonious reformed drinker, Christy How’s-it-goin-dere Moore.  At the corporate level, nobody is particularly pretty.  Not the robotic Diageo executive who appeared on PrimeTime like a deprogrammed Max Headroom and not Christy, the hellraiser-turned-sobriety-campaigner, who insists on closing the bar at every gig he plays.

Damn them all.  I hate Diageo for being Diageo, and Christy annoys me for being the condescending gobshite he always was.   I wonder how long he’d stay up on the surfboard after fourteen pints of stout these days?  He’s been writing shite comedy songs for years, mixed in with the occasional quasi-politically-aware outburst, but in many ways, he’s the Big Tom of Irish Agit-Prop and I’ll take no lectures from him, thanks, even if I have my own misgivings about a stupid drink-promotion stunt by a soulless multinational alcohol company.

A cirrhosis on all their houses.

11 thoughts on “Arthur’s Day Controversy

  1. It’s not just Christy. Bloody squealing godawful Waterboys have an equally irritating ditty with horrendously shite lyrics on the subject!

  2. Arthur’s Day is a good example of a pseudo issue.
    The big fuck-off issue of the day has not been dealt with so the next big thing that permits allocation of blame on whomever suits is perhaps just the tonic the doctor ordered.

  3. Yup, I’m in two minds about it too. Maybe I’ll go out but I won’t drink Diageo. Bock’s wise friend has a fair point about the wider issue though. What used to be public has gone indoors and we’re none the better for it. Our pub culture has been lost to a large extent in the last decade and a lot of the fun has gone with it. We’re still drinking like madmen though, we’re just doing it at home and I think the resultant social problems are worse. A barman might tell you you’ve had enough but the fridge won’t.

    The culture has changed so rapidly it’s almost scary,
    20 years ago if you were seen going home with a bottle you were a lost cause but you could drink a dozen pints in the pub without an eyelid batted. Now having a pub pint in the middle of the day is some kind of public announcement of alcoholism whereas drinking a couple of bottles of vino del slop at home of an evening appears to be completely accepted (Did we have ever have some kind of half normal middle ground, maybe for a few years around the late 90s???)

    OK, what to do? Lower taxes in pubs & increase them for off sales would be a decent start (but make the pubs provide more craft/local beers as a precon, decent coffee would be nice too). I reckon some kind of live music subsidy for bar owners, restaurants etc would be a huge plus for a whole range of reasons. How about a scheme to make it easy for community co-operatives to set up pubs in areas with none?

    I could go on, but fukkit, I think I might go for a lunchtime pint.

  4. In defence of CM’s rule of keeping the bar closed during gigs, I would hazard a guess that many musicians would do this if they could. At last weeks Bell X1 gig in the Big Top I could hear the babble of pissed up people over the sound of the band during the first half hour or so of their set and I was at a Jack L gig in Dolans a couple of years ago when he stopped and asked the crowd near the bar to be quiet so he could sing a song without musical accompaniment (sp) . I am sure there are many more examples of this.

    I know that without bar takings, the price of tickets would rocket and I know that Promoters like Mr Dolan need the revenue and all that, but from a musical point of view it’s preferable to be able to hear the music.

  5. I say we divvy up the 200k found in Tom McFeely’s old house and have the mother and father of all Artur’s Days!!

  6. The consultant (Liver specialist) making the most noise last week has another one of those charge more, inconvenience everyone, and achieve nothing schemes he was proposing on Prime time as a solution to the evil of Arthur’s Day.

    A man unaffected by the current financial climate, trying to persuade us the unwashed masses, who can’t afford to pay anymore, to pay more for drink to stop certain people binge drinking, genius.

  7. Ever wondered how Arthur’s Day came about? The opening 70 seconds of this shows footage of the Diageo board meeting where they thought it up:

  8. why has kevin myers colum suddenly stopped in the indo? would it have somthing to do with the fact that the new editor of that paper is female? and that myers was in the habit of regularly sneering at feminists in his writings? the too events coincided around the same time which would seem to point to a link………

  9. Black is the colour, of my pint of stout.
    Its creamy head lands in my mouth.
    A small little Jameson with a cube or two..

    Sorry love, I’ll be down in a sec…didal didel doe.

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