St Patrick’s Day is the friendliest day of the year. That’s not just some hack making a vague statement based on a few decent nights out on the Black Stuff — that is an actual fact.
Four years ago Guinness inspired hundreds of thousands of people to attend events across the world and pledge that they believed March 17 was the friendliest day in the calendar.
The judges at Guinness World Records (which was sold off by Diageo 15 years ago but still retains the name of the famous stout) agreed and the record was set.
More party people attended events in America than anywhere else but second on the list was the UK — so what is it that makes the patron saint of Ireland such a popular chap on these shores? Here are nine things that make St Patrick's Day special:
There's no getting away from it, so why pretend otherwise? Guinness has a closer link with St Patrick's Day than any other brand with any other day. On average pubs that activated a Guinness kit last year sold 118 extra pints, of which 72 would have been Guinness (61 per cent).
Katerina Podtserkovskaya, head of Guinness activation at Diageo, says: "St Patrick's Day in particular is a natural and unique sales opportunity for the Guinness brand, linking to its Irish heritage and provenance, and it's always an event we are keen to support."
2. Other drinks
While sales of pints will naturally increase, you can also give your drinks offer a sparkle by serving Black Velvets: Guinness and champagne or prosecco in a flute. Whiskeys such as Jameson, Bushmills and Tullamore Dew should also be given more prominence on the back-bar. Baileys and Irish coffee sales should soar too.
Katerina says that Guinness drinkers are generally higher spenders in the pub (Kanta Worldwide Panel), so you should look to provide plenty of food options. Irish stews, smoked salmon with horseradish, soda breads and mussels are among the traditional meals that will add to the occasions. Licensees with pubcos should look for deals — for example, Enterprise has teamed up with Booker to give publicans fully costed themed menu ideas to help increase food sales and profits.
St Patrick's equals a party and there are things you can do to encourage the atmosphere. Decorations help, as will music. Live bands are an option but failing this you can create playlists using apps such as Spotify.
You could also try Virtual Jukebox — a piece of kit designed specifically for the trade. It allows customers to select music to hear in the pub from their phones but the venue retains control through pre-set playlists.
Andy Hill, Virtual Jukebox chief executive, says: "Louder, up-tempo music can be used to generate a St Patrick's Day party atmosphere, creating a different experience from a normal day,where music may be quieter."
This week St Patrick's falls on a Thursday, which gives pubs the chance to really boost the average midweek takings. This is where Facebook, Instagram and Twitter play a huge role in promoting what you are doing. Guinness is providing licensees with digital images to use on social media.
6. The Weekends
Well, if Thursday is the new Friday, you are virtually at the weekend, so St Patrick's celebrations can continue for days this year! Guinness has helpfully branded all point-of-sale with "St Patrick's Weekend" to help you extend the party running a variety of events to keep things fresh. How's that Irish quiz?
Sunday March 19 is the culmination of this year's Six Nations tournament, which is a handy way of keeping things going. Wales play Italy at 2pm, followed by Ireland and Scotland at 5pm. If anyone is still standing at that stage they might want to watch France v England at 8pm. All matches are on BBC or ITV.
OK, so there's Valentine's Day in February but let's be honest — the months after Christmas are a challenge. St Patrick's is a chance to party and welcome the spring and good times ahead. It's also only a week until Easter (March 25-28).
9. Silly hats
Oh come on, who doesn't like a silly hat? Guinness is handing out 10,000 point-of-sale kits to pubs, which include a flag, several metres of bunting and 15 Guinness hats — let the good times begin!