MICHAEL LYONS SALES MANAGER, DIAGEO IRELAND
As Regional Sales Manager with Diageo for Munster, my role involves selling our broad portfolio of beer and spirits brands to our ontrade publican customers. Most people would say ‘how difficult can that be, selling Guinness to consumers in Ireland?’.
Sometimes it is challenging but mostly it is rewarding and so much fun. I get to experience some of the most popular events in sport through our sponsorships of Pro14 and Autumn Series Rugby, I get to see some of the most iconic acts in music through our association with Live @ The Marquee and I get to drink great pints of Guinness in some of the best pubs in Ireland. However, the highlight of the year is always ‘The Jazz’.
I grew up in Victoria X and in my twenties I have vivid memories of famous Jazz Festival Saturday nights in Jurys Hotel on Western Road. The place to be was the ballroom at the rear of the hotel. We needed early patience as the queues were so long but when we got in we were free to have all our excitement and anticipation fulfilled. The music was magic, the place was full of friends or acquaintances and the energy in the room was infectious. We would do the pub trail on a Sundays starting in DeLacy House and ending late at The Met. It always rained (or so it seemed) but we didn’t care, it was all about the music, the pubs and most of all meeting friends in a town that we called home.
As we in Diageo plan for Jazz Festival each year, I am acutely aware of my responsibility to keep the tradition and the high standards, I am surrounded by brilliant brand, commercial and sponsorships colleagues on the festival team and our first thoughts are about the consumer experience. We have a genuine desire to make it the most memorable Jazz ever for visitors. We try to introduce new initiatives each year as it must evolve to grow.
Of course we also want our iconic brand to connect with consumers. We believe Guinness stands for more than great beer. From the irrepressible spirit of Arthur Guinness, through the pioneering Gilroy advertising in the 1920’s, the widget can in the 1980’s, Guinness Storehouse in 2000 and Arthurs Day in 2009, Guinness has always pushed boundaries to deliver something bold. For me, Guinness Jazz stands shoulder to shoulder with all these milestones in the brands’ history.
As a Corkman, I am so proud of it and I will be as excited as all the other revellers as I get out of my taxi outside the Opera House for the grand opening on Friday.
Dee Dee Bridgewater plays the Everyman on Sunday.
ECLECTIC MIX: Nicholas Payton, Everyman, Saturday; King Kong Co, Opera House, Sunday; June Tabor/Quercus, Triskel, Saturday.