Softened as I am by the idyllic weather in the south of France, it was a rude shock for me to experience what the Irish preposterously call ‘summer’.
During a visit to Dublin this June, there wasn’t a single day I could go outside without a sweater or jacket and my partner’s careful pedicure never saw daylight because sandals or open-toed shoes would have meant cold, cold misery. One especially frightful day, the high temperature was a mere 11°C (52°F). And let us not speak of the seemingly constant drizzle.
But beyond this personal suffering, the truly dispiriting part was the naïveté of the locals who appear to have no idea what a proper summer day should feel like. Case in point is what may be the saddest advertising campaign in business history: the American beer giant Budweiser is trying to give away free pints on ‘hot’ summer days. Under the rules of Budweiser’s Ice Cold Index promotion, people are entitled to a free pint of beer any day the temperature goes above 20 °C (68 °F). (People also get discount coupons between 16 °C and 19 °C.) Think about that for a moment: the weather in Ireland is so gaspingly awful, Budweiser has set the threshold for a ‘hot’ summer’s day at a meagre 20 °C! In Marseille, a 20° C day in summer would be considered a frigid weather catastrophe!
To make matters worse, even with such an abysmally low ‘hot’ temperature, Budweiser is still exposing itself to very little risk. Using the handy meteorological database at www.wunderground.com, I studied the 2010 weather data for Dublin (Ireland’s warmest city) for the month of July (Ireland’s warmest month.) (It should be noted that one can’t just look at the daily high to see if the day qualifies for free beer; Budweiser measures the temperature at noon and the temperature often peaks a few hours later.) What would have happened if Budweiser had run the promotion in July 2010? There were only two days that month – July 1st and July 18th – where the midday temperature was above 20 °C. That’s right, two pathetic pints of free beer. By contrast, in my adopted hometown of Marseille, the temperature at noon was well above 20 °C every single day in July 2010 so Budweiser would have been on the hook for 31 free pints per person!
Now, among advertising types, the Budweiser campaign has been applauded for integrating traditional advertising with smart phone technology. (The temperature readings and pint coupons are distributed using a phone app.) But for me, every advertisement I saw just made me feel kind of sorry for the Irish people. I guess they’ll always have Reykjavik …
If The Promotion Ran Elsewhere (July 2010 data)
Dublin = 2 free pints of beer
Marseille = 31 free pints of beer
New York = 31 free pints of beer
Ottawa = 28 free pints of beer
Edinburgh = 2 free pints of beer
London = 27* free pints of beer
Tokyo = 31 free pints of beer
Riga = 30 free pints of beer
Krakow = 25 free pints of beer
Reykjavik = 0 free pints of beer
* London temperature is measured at 11h50 and 12h20, and on three days in July 2010 the recorded temperature at 11h50 was 19 °C and the temperature at 12h20 was 20 °C. Did the temperature creep past 20 °C in time for the hypothetical free beer? Impossible to know. So, there were only 24 days of certain free beer; but since I am the generous sort, I threw in the three doubtful days as well and gave London a total of 27 free pints.