LA CROSSE, Wis. (FNS) -- Irish potato salad in the deli. Live shamrocks in the floral department. Green bread and doughnuts in the bakery. They're just part of the St. Patrick's Day tie-in planned by Quillin's supermarkets here for this week.
It may seem a bit unusual in an area that proudly boasts of its German and Scandinavian heritage, and where you have to hunt a bit to find Irish surnames in the phone book. But Phil Quillin predicts customers would definitely complain if the store skipped its annual Irish bash. In fact, the owner of the seven-store operation says, Quillin's has become the place people in the La Crosse area think of first when they gear up for March 17.
"If we didn't do it, it would be a catastrophe," Quillin declares. After all, it's a natural promotion for a chain that for years has displayed a shamrock in its print ads and trotted out Quin the leprechaun as a store mascot. Last year Quillin's topped all previous efforts by staging a marriage between Quin and a fine lass named Molly. Since then the newlywed leprechauns have shared promotional duties in advertising and public appearances.
They'll celebrate their first anniversary at a local mall next door to a Quillin's store. Planning for the big bash began right after Christmas.
"We'll have a live radio broadcast from the mall on St. Patrick's Day, and serve anniversary cake and refreshments," Quillin explains. "The Shamrock Club, an Irish organization here in La Crosse, will be there as guests. The radio announcer will be Ed Sullivan, associated with a local Irish supper club."
Quillin's ads will highlight the opportunity to register for a free trip to Ireland. The stores will sell Irish bratwurst, brownies called Blarney bars, an upscale ham dubbed the Emerald Gold ham, leprechaun lime gelatin, Irish beers such as Guinness and Harp, and Irish whiskey. Shoppers will receive stick-on shamrocks.
Radio spots started airing a couple of weeks before St. Patrick's Day and feature Quin and Molly in ongoing soap-opera-style vignettes. Quin and Molly will also star in print ads promoting the first anniversary bash and the special in-store items.
The campaign is being prepared by the ad agency Al Quillin & Associates, owned by Phil Quillin's brother.