Not too far apart -By Erin Gray


As I have been roaming throughout Northern Ireland and Ireland, I have been observing the ways of life. Comparing the areas I visited to the United States, Belfast reminded me of Chicago. It was sort of a big city where everyone moved fast. The stores there and the people there were trendy and modern. People seemed to walk everywhere they went. They country side including Bellintoy and Donegal had a slower pace. There were not any chain stores around or much phone service. The countryside was all green with sheep standing everywhere. Dublin was a tourist-heavy city with many souvenir shops and pubs. Closer to the first hotel we stayed at, there were a few American-themed restaurants. Dublin had chain stores that are recognizable to Americans, but not as many as Belfast had. One thing I noticed is that Ireland had a lot of KCF, Starbucks and H&M stores.

As I observe the people and the culture, I am also observing the media industry in this country. An observation I made is that this country does not seem to do billboard advertising on the side of the freeway. In America, you see a billboard left and right while driving on the freeway. I also noticed that there is less poster advertising throughout the country as a whole as compared to America.

I have also payed some attention to television advertising in Belfast and Dublin. The structure of many of their commercials are similar to America, however it is different to hear the Irish accents. I have noticed that the video quality of some commercials and television shows originated in Ireland is lesser.

I remember tuning into the local news station for a few minutes in Dublin and the structure of news segments is the same as in America. There is an anchor at a desk who reads from the teleprompter and the story jumps to the reporter at the scene. The only thing I noticed is that the news stations in America that I watch add more conversation and dialogue than the segment I watched here. The anchor would read the story and the news would be reported, but there wasn’t a lot of personal opinion or comments from the anchor or reporter like we see on WXYZ at home.

Something that strikes me is that the packaging for the same products we have in the U.S. are different in Ireland. For example, KitKat bars are a popular candy bar in America. Several brands that are popular in American are packaged differently including Coke as well.

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Screenshot from Google Images

From visiting different tourist attractions including the Titanic Museum, the Shamrocker tour, the Giant’s Causeway, Slieve League, and the Guinness Storehouse, I have seen many advertising and public relations tactics. For one, these attractions are advertised in tourism pamphlets, online and across social media. Tourism pamphlets can be considered traditional advertising because it is a form of placing an ad in a paper. Online advertising also seems to be on the rise with the increase in online news platforms. Online advertising is tracked by clicks, so when a company pays to have their ad placed on a website, they can tell how the ad is performing based on the number of click throughs which is easier to track than with print advertising. Many of the attractions I have seen on this trip have used social media as advertising which is smart because it is absolutely free and probably the most engaging with consumers. Conor from the Shamrocker tours used social media advertising by encouraging our group to post photos from our adventure using the shamrock hashtag. This way, when people who do the Shamrocker tour, post a picture and use the hashtag, their friends or viewers can click on the hashtag and see the Shamrocker page which at the least will raise awareness of the company and at the most will gain a new customer.

The Guinness Storehouse could arguably be advertising in its-self. It is a large and well known tourist attraction in Ireland and it is a brand of beer that is known all throughout the U.S. In the storehouse, there was a section where visitors could get their photo taken in a photo booth and they have the option of posting it to Facebook. With this tactic, the company is utilizing social media to increase awareness of their brand. The storehouse also has a reputation of being a cool place to visit. By up-keeping their attraction and being appealing to visitors, they are maintaining their brand image. If the quality of the attraction were to go down, then people would not spread good word about it and new visitors would not feel encouraged to come. A lot of advertising can just be spread by word of mouth and Guinness seems to be taking advantage of that. The attraction is also worth it because of the roof-top bar and the drink ticket. It is awesome that Guinness does not just give a small sample of the beer on the tour, but also allows you to pour your own and take it up to a rooftop bar. By just having and maintaining  the storehouse tour facility is a successful branding campaign in itself in my opinion.

Although some parts of Ireland are similar to the United States, there are many things that are different in good and bad ways. While comparing culture and media in Ireland vs. the U.S., I would not say that one country has anything figured out better than the other. Ireland has attractions unique to them as we have attractions unique to us. Ireland has the countryside with no cell phone service and sheep everywhere as we have farms with cows and horses and no convenience stores in sight. Our news stations may be more talkative and encourage more personality and dialogue, but their news stations might be less biased. We may have more billboards and advertisements placed throughout the country but they could be benefitted in some way from not being constantly exposed to advertising. Ireland and America are not the same but they are not too different from each other either.