How a vegan sausage roll became the first PR triumph of 2019

Back in December, an email was ‘accidentally’ leaked that contained details of the upcoming launch of a vegan sausage roll by Greggs. And with Greggs not confirming nor denying rumours, social media became flooded with anticipation of this new product that was set to change the way people viewed veganism.

vegan sausage roll

We all know the stereotypes that surround vegan food. Soya, jackfruit, tofu, cashew nut cheese (yes, the kinds of terms you’ll find in Lucy Watson’s instagram stories) – it’s a lifestyle that most of us (especially students) usually wouldn’t be able to afford. Veganism is widely thought of of being an expensive way to live, so this new vegan alternative to the much loved £1 sausage roll from Greggs was set to throw a massive spanner in the works. And it has.

On 2nd January, Greggs posted the launch video for this ground-breaking new product on their YouTube channel, and it was an instant hit. It mimicked an Apple advertisement, with the new alternative sausage roll taking centre stage just as the latest iPhone would in one of Apple’s annual announcements. And in keeping with their launch video, Greggs sent out samples of their latest product to journalists and influencers, encased in a white box distinctly similar to an iPhone box, complete with silver-embossed text that read: “Pastry Layers: 96, Flake Resolution: Optimal, Taste Level: Maximum, Mega Bites: 10.”

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I know what you’re thinking. All this, for a £1 sausage roll? Well, there was method behind the madness. Knowing that veganism is thought of as an expensive lifestyle, Greggs have tapped into this stereotype by presenting this inexpensive sausage roll as something luxurious and glamorous. John Brown, founder of communications agency Don’t Cry Wolf, for example, stated:

“A lot of companies would be terrified of offending the vegan lobby so it takes a bit of guts to treat the whole thing as a bit of fun – for instance with the iPhone theme. A lot of vegans do own Apple products – that’s a neat touch.”

Most of us would have thought of Greggs and veganism as being polar opposites – Greggs is the ‘cheap and cheerful’ guilty pleasure we go to when we’re skint and want a quick bite to eat; veganism is a lifestyle choice that is widely stereotyped as being pretentious and stuck-up. So by combining the two, Greggs have completely changed the game – and it’s a genius move that none of us saw coming.

The packaging and marketing of a product that sells at £1 created a lot of hype and interest surrounding it’s launch, and Greggs’ clever use of humour has meant that the sausage roll itself has gained a massive following on social media. One day after it’s launch, the hashtag #greggsvegansausageroll was the top trending hashtag in the UK. And you only have to click on it to get involved in ongoing conversation surrounding the new alternative product, and even join in the wide-spread debate – Can it really be called a sausage roll if it doesn’t contain any sausage?

Greggs themselves have caught on to the social media thing, and used it to their advantage. The product gained yet more publicity when Piers Morgan (yes, I know, of course he had to get involved) criticised the product and questioned the need for it. Greggs however tweeted him back, arguably making a complete fool out of him; and other fast food chains such as McDonalds even joined the band-wagon when he also criticised their new meat-free products.

The geniuses behind Greggs’ latest PR stunts obviously have a sense of humour, and in this case, it’s served them well. We’ve seen a few examples of this from them recently. For example, there was the time they went undercover at a food market as an up-market, niche brand called ‘Gregory and Gregory’ and asked a few posh people to unknowingly try their food; as well as the time they lay a sausage roll in a manger surrounded by the three wise men, suggesting that said sausage roll could take Jesus’ place. That campaign, however, backfired, as many Christians took to social media to complain that it was offensive to their religious beliefs. In terms of sales, however, this controversy didn’t actually do any damage to Greggs’ brand; in fact, according to website PR Week, in the weeks after the controversy stores across the UK were selling out of sausage rolls. The fact that Greggs came out of the ‘sausage roll Jesus’ controversy unscathed, then, may explain their ballsiness in attempting to mock the vegan community – a community that in recent times have been the butt of a lot of jokes. They took the risk, though, and it’s paid off.

All of the work that’s been put into this £1 sausage roll – that’s not even really a sausage roll – has meant that Greggs have been sold out of the product in stores across the UK as early as midday. People have even began bidding online for them on eBay, and paying as much as £7 for one that comes in the iPhone box packaging. So there you have it: sausage rolls, vegan alternatives to sausage rolls, and putting Piers Morgan in his place – this is how you capture the hearts of the UK public. And with a bit of clever marketing and PR added into the mix, you’re almost guaranteed success. 

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Anna Stewart is an MSc Communication and Public Relations with Advertising student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @astewart95 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-stewart-b3127a139/

 

 

Semester scary

Growing up in the absolute middle of nowhere for the past 18 years could have never prepared me for the transition from the country to the city, or school to uni. Garron tower was the castle on the hill, not just a school but a community and unfortunately in September, I learnt that Jerusalem Street was not exactly the same. For the duration of my upper 6th year, the stress of A-levels had made me that pupil who couldn’t wait to leave and move on to university. A few weeks into my first semester however, things took a turn, and I would have done anything to press rewind. The transition from primary to secondary school, at the innocent age of 11, seemed to be the biggest moment of my life (or so I thought). A big new building with 800 pupils and an oversized uniform that made me feel tinier than I already was. Fast-forward 7 years and Ulster University Jordanstown was unfortunately an even bigger step; one I didn’t think I could take.

Truthfully, I thought I had a fair idea of what ‘uni life’ had to offer when I left the house that Sunday evening, with an Asda bag full of the essentials and a huge grin on my face. My sister has been at uni for the past 2 years and the thrill of partying and staying with her in ‘the big smoke’ was the only real experience I had. Lying in bed, nursing a sore head, whilst she attempted to make herself presentable for class was exactly what I expected and couldn’t wait for. Unfortunately, reality soon became my enemy. Uni wasn’t what I had anticipated, and I soon became that girl. Struggling to get ready, panicking about missing the bus and not being able to find my class.

For me, first semester wasn’t all fun and games. I felt so out of my depth and frankly, quite stupid. I thought everyone around me was 10 times smarter than I was and that I would ultimately never be able to survive until graduation, drop out, become a sad and uneducated 40-year-old, who had been shamed the uni drop out, failure and disappointment of the family…phew. What about my aspirations to become a highly paid successful professional, with a just as successful husband, 3 kids, a dog and a huge house? Dramatic, I know, but honestly, I couldn’t see myself surviving until Christmas, never mind final year. Who would have thought when you came to uni you would actually have to do work?! Is it not all about the craic? After 3 assignments and 4 tests I’ve realised it’s not…BUT, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an absolute blast.

I know I’m making semester one out to be the worst thing in the world but it’s honestly how I felt. However, what I’ve came to realise with the aid of my new friends, who I had originally deemed the next Einstein’s, is that everyone is in the same boat, so don’t worry.  Uni is a scary place for a first year and no matter how clever you know you are you begin doubting yourself and your ability. You disregard the fact you got the grades and you’re fit for the degree, all you need is the motivation to work for it. Don’t let the fear of the unknown ruin your uni experience, especially first year. This is the time to let all the partying out of your system and discover more about who you are (as cliché as it sounds).  You need to remember you didn’t work your butt off at school to come this far and only this far. Embrace all the worries and wonders student life has to offer and take them in your stride. After all, your student days are the best days of your life; fact. No matter how many times you convince yourself you can’t do it, you can and you will.

In the wise words of Samantha Montgomery, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

Thanks for reading!

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Holly Gillan is a first year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Instagram – hollygillan987 ; Twitter – @Hollyg453

 

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

To anyone who has clicked on this post thinking that I’m pregnant or that I am offering pregnancy advice, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. But thanks for clicking. I’m actually writing about what to expect when you’re expecting a placement, so if this may help you, please stay tuned.

When I was applying to placement (after placement, after placement) I had the mindset that I would pick a few I liked, apply, they’d love me and I’d get the job. Well, it wasn’t as big-headed or far-fetched as that but you can understand how straightforward I expected it to be. You might be in a similar mindset so I’m here to give you more of a realistic expectation to how applying for placement really works and what you should expect.

 

  1. FEELING CLUELESS

Your placement year is something you’ve known about when choosing your course, starting your course, during your whole first year and yet when second year comes around and you realise that you need to get a placement you feel utterly offended that no one had mentioned this to you or helped you with this yet.SD1

So in your best attempt to overcome complete cluelessness, you should attend a class regarding placement guidelines or at least try to keep up to date with emails. If you’re still feeling clueless, don’t worry, everyone is. At this stage it’s important to ask for help. This could be with your CV, a meeting with your careers department or even just asking people in your class.

Understanding the whole equation of everything involved in a placement takes time. Do not worry. Your clueless hours of thinking “what?” on repeat will end and you will start to get your head around what is expected.

  1. INFORMATION OVERLOAD

When checking your emails and employability portal for placement opportunities, you will quickly come to realise the vast number of placements that are actually available. There are specific key months when every placement ever seems to be open at once and you could spend days reading about the job description, the company, etc. This is overwhelming. This is information overload.

My advice in this instance is this; in your attempt to filter through the never-ending list of placements, do not rule out placements just because you haven’t heard of the company. Take time to explore the company’s website, learn about their culture and research exactly what your role will be. The time taken will be worth it and you may even be at an advantage over the huge influx of people applying to the big names. Just because they’re bigger, doesn’t mean they’re better.

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  1. NO INVESTMENT, NO RETURN

From the above, you should now realise that applying for placements isn’t just a few clicks and uploads. In my opinion, it’s the applications that are the hardest part and after that it’s a matter of waiting for replies and then preparing for interviews. But you can only really relax and enjoy the latter if you actually put time and effort into each of your applications. Each application is different. Don’t use the same cover letter with a few different words changed (trust me, they’ll notice). It’s important to understand that no two roles are the same so your applications shouldn’t be.

If you don’t invest the effort, you are highly unlikely to get anything in return. It took me three hideous applications to realise this and looking back I can’t believe I questioned why employers weren’t tripping over each other to offer me an interview when in reality they probably blacklisted my CV.

  1. TIME, TIME, PRECIOUS TIME

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If you’re second year at university, the likelihood is that your time mostly revolves around sleeping, drinking, going out, being hungover, thinking about what will make you feel less hungover, thinking your hangover is over then realising it was just the start, eating, going to university, being on your phone and on occasion, doing work for university. And in this jam-packed schedule, where on earth is the time to apply for placements?! * The truth is you have to make time. There’s no cheats or fast routes, it takes time and you need to make the time no matter what other commitments you have, drinking included. Even if you try setting out two days in the week to focus specifically on research and applications for the placements you want, it will really help.

At the start, expect to be bewildered at how it took you two and a half hours to write your CV profile section and blown away at the fact that it still sounds like the first one you read off Google and did your best not to copy. The more time you put into it, the better it will be and you’ll be constantly tweaking and fixing bits to end up with an application you’re happy with. But please, don’t underestimate the time it takes. It’s probably the most important thing for you to take from this whole piece if you take anything at all.

*Apologies to anyone who does not have the student time-schedule as the one mentioned above. I’m sorry that I stereotypically profiled you under a student experience umbrella based on what I’m used to. Well done for being studious, the rest of us envy you a lot.

  1. GETTING GHOSTED

This is probably the most infuriating thing that you should expect. And also very, very common. Expect long waits of thinking, “no I’ve definitely got this one, no point applying anywhere else, this is the one” and proceeding to find out someone else in your class got the role last week. As far as I was aware, there’s no procedures in place that say employers have to let you know if you’ve been rejected. And on the off chance that you are an employer and you’re reading this, please let a student know if they haven’t been successful in their applications, it’s polite and really helpful. So expect to be ghosted and my advice in this instance would be to set a realistic time limit before moving on and trying your best at your next application. It can be really disheartening but it’s just what you’ve got to do.

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Thank you if you’ve made it to the end and have actually read the full thing. I hope it helps you if you’re in the position of applying to placements or if you’re on placement/have been on placement, I hope you can relate to the struggle. Also, it’s not all doom and gloom and once you’ve gotten your placement you feel amazing and have such a massive opportunity ahead of you, but that’s all for another post!

 

Scout Dobbin is a third year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on placement as a Marketing Assistant. Scout can be found on Linkedin – Scout Dobbin ; Twitter – @scoutdobbin ; Instagram – @scoutdobbin

Moody Mondays

It’s a cold, damp Monday morning in the middle of October and I woke up feeling not myself. I know what your thinking he had a “mad one” the night before and is nursing a hangover (shockingly this was not the case this time I assure you all). I’ve never been a Monday person like so many others, it was just me feeling a little unmotivated and maybe because I knew I had the daunting task of writing a blog which I have never done before. The joys of university. More to the point, I was feeling the pressure of meeting the ever-growing amounts of coursework deadlines and to be honest life in general. As the famous saying goes, “when it rains its pours”which it most certainly does. So as any young adult in this technological age, instead of going to someone I went online for some inspiration and came across a powerful motivational speech which has now inspired this blog that you are hopefully still reading. My aim now writing this as you read is to motivate myself and also motivate others who endure their fair share of “Moody Mondays”.

Image result for keep calm and pretend its not monday

The speech I am talking about took place in the University of Texas at Austin, it was a 2014 government address by Admiral William H. McRaven. If you haven’t seen it please watch the video below. This retiring Admiral and Navy Seal trainer delivers one of the most inspiring and uplifting speeches you will ever hear.

 

FAILURE? What do you define as failure? The English dictionary description of failure is, “the state of not meeting a desirable objective.” Sure the dictionary is correct, but for me failure is an ambiguous word with several meanings that any given individual can take from it. For many it can mean the end of the road, an impassible brick wall that can not be broken but for others failure is merely the stepping stone for success, if we don’t fail then how do we know what is feels like to succeed truly?

For the majority of us it is hard-wired into us to judge our success on whether or not we achieved the result we set out to achieve. You will read and you will hear that failure is not an option. That is ridiculous, failure is always an option. Failure is the most readily available option at all times. But it comes down to choice. You can choose to fail or you can choose to succeed. Failure in anything whether it is losing in a county championship final or in something so simple like losing a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with your housemate, to which the loser has to clean those dreaded dishes (we have all been there), it can be a hard pill to swallow. For those of you blessed with a dishwasher, I envy you.

Image result for success failure

On a more serious note. Anyone who has achieved anything great, anyone who has changed their life has at some point willingly made a choice to embrace failure instead of fighting it. So when failure smacks you in the face, take a step back, appreciate all that is great in your life. We are in a constant uphill battle living in a society that is driven by results, driven by numbers, driven by what a computer screen tells you, whether you have enough money to squeeze in a “Cheeky Nando’s” or a McDonald’s, its a society driven by us. We are the drivers, so take your foot off that accelerator, slow down and breath. When failure comes knocking (which it probably will), answer, except it and start again. As Thomas Edison famously quoted, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”.

Without ramming too much of this motivational talk down your throats, I hope that this blog has in some shape or form motivated you, even it was just one person then I’ve accomplished what I set out to get from this blog.

The moral of the story is I’m still not a Monday person and may the coffee be strong and the Mondays be short. 

Travis Kelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/travis-kelly-509007150/

 

 

STRICTLY PROHIBITED: Curse or Coincidence?

When deciding on a topic for my first blog post, I thought to myself; What am I interested in? What would my readers be interested in? What’s been going in in the media this week? So, I thought I’d keep this light-hearted and discuss the recent Strictly Come Dancing scandal. If you don’t like Strictly don’t leave just yet, I for one am not a major fan but I have somehow become captivated by the so called ‘Strictly curse.’

Popular entertainment show Strictly Come Dancing has a troubled history of sparking relationship woes among its celebrity contestants but is it really a ‘curse’ or just a coincidence? Well, let’s take a look…

It’s been the latest media frenzy this week taking the world of showbiz by storm and anyone who has any contact with the outside world will undoubtedly heard of the recent goings on between strictly duo, Seann Walsh and Katya Jones.

If you for some reason have been living as a hermit, Seann and his professional dance partner Katya were spotted sharing a kiss and joking around outside a London bar last week much to the dismay of their respective other halves.

Exhibit A: #Awkward

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Seann was in a long-term relationship whilst Katya is married to fellow strictly dancer Neil Jones, who made his feelings towards Seann pretty clear on Saturday nights show.

If looks could kill, literally…

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Curse or Coincidence?

A total of 9 couples have already fallen for the strictly ‘curse’ since the show’s debut back in 2004 so it does make me think, perhaps this is a curse? or maybe we are just dealing with a bunch of celebrities who simply can’t handle themselves around a few sweaty dancers, either way the debate seems to captivate the minds of the public every year.

Having never been a fan of Strictly Come Dancing with this year being no exception, I found myself unable to escape the drama on social media, and let’s not kid ourselves, we all love a bit of drama! I tuned in to Strictly ‘It Takes Two’ to see how the couple would deal with the utter shame of the situation and it was possibly the most uncomfortable thing I have ever witnessed, and I certainly wasn’t alone there.

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One thing I can say about the so called ‘curse’ is that it has worked wonders for the BBC. When news broke of Seann and Katya’s infidelity, BBC bosses were rather silent on the issue, understandably perhaps. However, there was no escaping the scandal, with some celebrities jumping to Seann’s defence whilst others began to publicly bash him and his partner Katya calling for the pair to be kicked off the show. Strictly judges, current and previous contestants appeared on various TV shows over the course of the week sharing their opinion on the scandal, so Strictly well and truly gained mass publicity, whether it be positive or negative.

So, have the BBC played up to the ‘Curse?’

From keeping up with all the drama in the world of Strictly, I can’t help but think this whole ‘curse’ debate has worked in the BBC’s favour, with viewing figures hitting a whopping 11.9 million this week with many eager fans tuning in to see the couple perform, I think we can agree that the BBC has well and truly won the Saturday night TV ratings war, but maybe unfairly this time around! The BBC meticulously planned each and every minute in Saturday night’s show to keep viewers on their toes, even leaving Seann and Katya as one of the last couples to dance, so is it really any wonder why they kept them in the show? It was total genius!

It remains unseen as to whether or not the ‘curse’ is real so the real question is, will it all be forgotten about by next week? Probably not, but lets all sit back and watch the drama unfold.

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The Strictly Saga continues…

Sorcha Conway is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted through; Facebook: Sorcha Conway /  Twitter: @SorchaConway / LinkedIn: sorcha-c / Instagram: sorchaconway515

 

Dunkin’ Drops Donuts

Who says Dunkin’ Donuts anyway?

My name is Gianna, and I am fully aware that we do not have Dunkin’ Donuts in Northern Ireland. But I’m pretty sure that 99% of us know what it is, and I think that’s enough to write about this piece of news.

The fast-food chain announced the news on September 25, 2018, that it would be dropping the ‘Donuts’ from the name for customers to be aware that they sell more than just donuts.

It’s not a surprise that they are dropping the ‘Donuts’. Their slogan is “America runs on Dunkin’” and their logo is a coffee cup. Both aspects of the brand image lack emphasis on the sugary treat; rather it directs the audience’s attention to coffee, which coincidentally is what the company will now focus on in the New Year. A former CFO of Dunkin’ Donuts even stated in 2013 that the company is, in fact, a “beverage company.”

Fear not to those of you who have tried Dunkin’ Donuts, the company will continue to sell those original glazed donuts and other flavours you may have tried when you went to America for your holiday. They merely want to focus on beverages such as iced coffees, cold-brews and teas; a cheaper alternative to the iced salted caramel latte macchiato with two shots of espresso and no foam at Starbucks.

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Though change is coming to the company, the font and brand image will remain the same. With its infamous clashing of colours of orange and pink. This new logo will be rolled out in all the company’s advertising, packaging, social media and website once the New Year begins.

People’s responses are not always the most positive. Everything and everyone has a doubter. Meryl Streep has at least 5 people despising her work, the Pixar movie Up is perhaps not the most loved movie of all time and the new Dunkin’ name will have people associating it with basketball, as a Twitter user suggests. This new name change could spark inspiration to other American fast food chains to change their brand to make it more catchy. The Chinese takeaway Panda Express could change to just Panda and maybe the Instagram-worthy fast-food burgers In-N-Out may drastically change to In/Out.

The social media team at Dunkin’ Donuts have been continually rolling out the new name via Instagram posts. Even though the company does not officially change its name until January 1 2019, bittersweet goodbyes have been already said by the company. Their Instagram bio cleverly states “We’re on a first-name basis with America” and a sentimental post stating “Dunkin’ means donuts. Always has, always will.” Tissue anyone?

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This name changing trend is not unusual when you want to promote more than what the name states. Recently, Weight Watchers also changed its name to “WW” because in our body-positive, love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin era, the company did not want to be associated with the notion of dieting, therefore the emphasis of watching your weight has now been dropped. The marketing stunt of IHOP changing to IHOB was smart, but that is for another story.

Change can be useful for a company and it can also be terrible. But we won’t find out if the outcome of this name change is good or bad until the New Year. I don’t mind the name change, considering that I lived in America for a year. I did notice that not a lot of people said: “Do you want to get Dunkin’ Donuts?”. So when I heard the news about Dunkin’ dropping the Donuts, I thought to myself, Who says Dunkin’ Donuts anyway?”

Now, onto more pressing news; petition to get Dunkin’ Donuts in Northern Ireland?

Gianna Pornasdoro is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gianna-pornasdoro/ 

And the pint of Harp

And the pint of Harp

Recently on my Facebook newsfeed I came across this video –

Now I can’t say it’s the first time I’ve seen the ad as I think it pops up on my Facebook every other week but coming across it again had me thinking.

How come we don’t see more Northern Ireland based companies getting on board with this style of region targeted advertising/campaigning?

Harp are definitely the stand out company when it comes to these types of ads as they’ve been doing them for years, one of my favourite ads tells the story about a NI resident who is missing home. He begins naming the things he misses about home the most in threes and at the end of each sequence he says ‘and the pint of harp’. Maybe its just me but I personally love it because it’s stupidly funny and so simple. If you watch the ad, it’s some what true and relatable when you’re missing home.

Their most recent campaign is currently underway and its called ‘Pure Here & There’. It’s based around the six counties in Northern Ireland and it involves two actors using a Northern Irish comedic approach when describing the most well known facts about each county and their including cities and towns. There are six ads for all of Northern Ireland’s six counties and any Northern Irish resident with a sense of humour will appreciate them.

Pure Here & There, Co. Antrim

Pure Here & There, Co. Armagh

Pure Here & There, Co. Down

Pure Here & There, Co. Fermanagh

Pure Here & There, Co. Legenderry

Pure Here & There, Co. Tyrone

I think this campaign is a brilliant example of knowing your audience. I hope nobody takes offense to this but harps main consumers are men, obviously. The two characters in the adverts for the campaign are of course men (if you watched any of the links above) and they work their way around Northern Ireland describing its most famous features in horrible fashion as they sup on Harp beer however that’s what makes the adverts funny. My point is that this sense of humour is performed by men for men and I think Harp know that.

Along with the television adverts they have been selling their harp cans with individual county names on them and their accompanying iconic landmarks designed onto the can. They have even avoided the on-going controversy surrounding Derry\Londonderry by calling it Legenderry, turning a negative into a positive.

There is also the main ‘Pure Here’ advert that tries to figure out the perfect drink that has the pure essence of Northern Ireland. It’s a mix of a column from the giant’s causeway, shavings from the H&W cranes and the buzz of a night out in Belfast however the ad ends by saying these things are undrinkable and that harp had it right all along and closes with the slogan, pure here. An unexpected anti-climax but good advertising all the same!

As a fan of Harp and all things Northern Ireland I think this campaign is excellent, and its because they incorporate everything that people love about Northern Ireland into their campaign in a brilliantly clever manner and more local companies should follow!

They embrace the fact that they are a Northern Irish company and have made a campaign around that using the humour of the area. This style of campaigning and advertising does nothing but good things for their name and I’m sure their brand awareness has soared in Northern Ireland as a result of this. Their beer is probably doing pretty well too.

Aaron O’Reilly is a final year Public Relations Student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter: @aaronoreilly and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-o-reilly-ab0708121/