On Sunday Guinness, the beloved Irish liquid, ended its sponsorship of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade today in New York City.
Why? Because rainbows count more these days than green stripes. Or, rather, there’s more green in a rainbow than there used to be.
Guinness cut the sponsorship when the parade organization continued to block LGBT marchers from identifying themselves as gay.
This is a smart move by Guinness, getting ahead of what might have become a crisis it could not control anyway, because it did not govern the parade. The Irish brewer joined Sam Adams and Heineken, which made similar decisions for other parades.
Guinness can’t get any more Irish than it already is. We doubt that sales of the creamy ale would suffer without the sponsorship. But the LGBT community has frequently shown its ability to unify and demonstrate its buying power through product boycotts. Ask Stoli vodka, most recently.
The beauty of Guinness’ decision is that it not only avoided a negative, but turned it into a positive:
“Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: discrimination should never be celebrated,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement Sunday.
Guinness’ position is that it’s not about beer and bucks — the messaging takes the high road — it’s about avoiding discrimination. But it’s of course about beer and bucks in the end.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at www.mowerpr.com/crisisready . Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.