Category: Archive

Hibernians rehab, tap Boston Beer in hunger project

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The Hibernians will stage their first AOH Hunger Project during March. It is aimed at both commemorating the Great Hunger in Ireland and combating hunger today in the United States.
The project is being coordinated by AOH National President Ned McGinley, who said last week that one of the reasons for the campaign was to present St. Patrick’s Day as being something other than a “green beer” drinking holiday. The project, however, is being bankrolled to the tune of $10,000 by the Boston Beer Company, brewers of Sam Adams beer. Last year, the company was threatened with a boycott by the Hibernians, among others.
The reason was the company’s sponsorship of a stunt concocted by the “Opie and Anthony” syndicated radio show on WNEW-FM in New York. The show, along with Boston Beer, promoted a “Sex for Sam” series in which couples were encouraged to have sex in public places. A Virginia couple took up the challenge — inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. The resulting uproar resulted in prosecutions and the scrapping of the radio show. It also threatened sales of Sam Adams beer until the company ran rings around itself apologizing to Catholics and all who were offended by the stunt.
The AOH, McGinley said, has accepted the apology, although the Pennsylvania-based national president said that some individual members are still sore over the cathedral episode.
“They [Boston Beer] apologized to the archdiocese, the Catholic League and ourselves,” McGinley said. “They took out an ad in our paper, the Hibernian Digest, and they have been anxious to do something to help our work.
“So often you have to go after a company in a situation like this when something anti-Catholic or anti-Irish occurs, but this was entirely different. They went ballistic. The president of Boston Beer called me directly. He chased me down.”
McGinley added that not only did the company publicly apologize but it had also since changed its advertising policy to avoid so-called “shock jock” shows like “Opie and Anthony.”
On top of all this came the offer to help the Hibernians educate people about hunger and fight it in communities around the U.S. The help will take the shape of advertising for the Hibernian campaign paid for by Boston Beer.
McGinley indicated he was aware of the irony in wanting to promote St. Patrick’s Day as being something other than a drinking holiday by fighting hunger — and accepting a helping hand from a brewery to do so.
“I’ve no problem with people having a beer,” he said. “The point is that people should understand what they are celebrating on St. Patrick’s Day; they should enjoy the day but also avoid excessive drinking. It’s the excess that’s the problem.”
McGinley said that the Philadelphia County Board had for years been active in the fight against hunger around St. Patrick’s Day. But the effort had become a bit hit-and-miss locally.
“We decided to extend the effort to a national one,” he said. “We had a national conference call of state presidents and the project is now on everybody’s front burner for the month of March.
“The Irish have a vested interest in fighting hunger and educating people about it.”
A key part of the AOH effort will be to help replenish stocks at food banks and kitchens around the U.S. at a time of year when stocks at such places tend to hit annual lows.
The effort will be backed up with the $10,000 donation from Boston Beer. The money will be used to cover advertising, printing and mailing costs incurred by the Hibernians.
“Boston Beer has been very helpful in advising us what will and what will not work with regard to combating hunger,” said Carolyn Daly, a New York-based publicity spokeswoman for the hunger project.
“This is a natural tie-in for them because much of the company’s philanthropic work already covers this sort of campaign.”
More information on the hunger project is available on the AOH website, www.aoh.com.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese