In 1996, Jameson brought one foreign journalist to Ireland for the St Patrick's Day shenanigans – a radio presenter from Johannesburg who broadcast snippets of events from Dublin.
It's a sign of the Irish Distillers brand's global ambitions – and the improved St Patrick's Day offering as a tourist-friendly event – that this week it brought in 50 journalists, from titles including GQ, Vice Media and the Huffington Post as well as 14 DJs and bloggers.
Their itinerary over several days includes a Jameson supported concert, the Bow Street Sessions – with Kodaline the headliner – the parade and the usual tourist sights around Dublin with the whiskey’s own visitor centre a key destination.
The DJs will also play several gigs which will be broadcast on the brand’s website, a further sign of the whiskey’s positioning away from an “old man” drink towards a sophisticated younger urban buyer.
This year the global marketing campaign is called “Be Original” and while it is hanging on to the coat-tails of the national feast day in terms of timing, it is steering well clear of shamrockery.
"You won't see lots of tall green hats or anything like that" says Simon Fay, Jameson's international marketing manager. "The idea is that people can celebrate in their own way, they can break with convention."
Which as well as sound lifestyle marketing seems subtle code for the brand distancing itself from the drinkfest label that so easily attaches to the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Dublin agencies Social House and Nine Yards are behind the campaign with brand manager Kate McCarthy pulling its many elements together. A two-minute film directed by Scott Carthy features what the company describes as "Irish people breaking boundaries and squashing norms" and includes James Earley, a street artist who takes inspiration from generations of stained glass workers in his family; the band Jape; and a pair of road bowlers in Waterford.
“You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St Patrick’s Day,” the ad continues. “It’s all in your approach. “Run with it. Show us how it’s done.” A limited edition bottle with a label by James Early will be sold, says Fay, in 38 global markets.