The Rewind

The Mad Story Behind Carlsberg's 'Irish Poem In A Brazilian Nightclub' Commercial

The Mad Story Behind Carlsberg's 'Irish Poem In A Brazilian Nightclub' Commercial

'An bhfuil cead agam dul amach go dtí an leithreas?' A staple phrase from our primary school days made even more iconic by an advert from the mid-2000s.

Few people in the country won't fondly recall this scene.

Three Irishmen are ordering pints in a Brazilian bar when the barman instructs them to "do something Irish". One of the Irishmen proceeds to deliver one of the most beautiful and renowned Irish poems ever produced:

"An bhfuil cead agam dul amach go dtí an leithreas?

Agus madra rua!

Is maith liom cáca milis.

Agus Sharon Ní Bheoláin.

Tá geansaí orm.

Tá scamaill sa spéir.

Tabhair dom an cáca milis!"

 

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The revered Carlsberg ad is now somewhat iconic in the country. Since it aired, the number of 'An bhfuil cead agam dul amach go dtí an leithreas?' tattoos have alarmingly skyrocketed. However, few know there is actually an interesting story behind the ad.

It would come as a surprise for most to learn that the piece was indeed filmed in Brazil. Aside from a brief establishing shot of Rio de Janeiro, the entire ad takes place within a generic-looking pub. There is though a good reason for this.

Actor Vincent Moran appears in the ad saying the line, "A poem, in our native Irish tongue." According to Vincent, himself and the two other Irishmen were originally flown out to shoot the ad on a beach.

"We were flown down to Rio and we were staying on the Ipanema strand. They had built a bamboo bar on the Copacabana beach and that’s where it was all going to be filmed. We were supposed to be in Brazil for seven days. Which was five days to acclimatise and then two days to film. So I was like, 'wow, that worked out well.' But then on day five or six, a monsoon hit Rio and it washed the bamboo bar away! So it put them into a state of frenzy."

"Our seven days was extended into ten days and we only ended up shooting for days eight and nine and flying home on day ten. Quite literally they ended up just renting a night-club and we were indoors just shooting the whole thing. So the only inclination that you get that we were in fact in Rio was an opening shot of the ad where some guy went up one of the mountains and did a night-shot of Rio."

Despite the hiccups, the change of set didn't seem to do the end product any harm. In fact, the advert ended up being such a hit in Ireland that it has the rare accolade of being included in 2008's Reeling In the Years.

Though the script was quirky, Vincent says he didn't really imagine the ad would be as popular as it is.

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"You never really knew how big it was going to be but you did know it was a smart ad. It was a clever ad. It’s gas, there was an addition put in by the director. He got an idea where he really liked the bit for the last line in the poem where he goes, “Tabhair dom an cáca milis!” So for the last bit during the poem and he got the entire nightclub to go “cáca milis!” in response, in echo to what he said.

"I remember as he was doing that, the three of us stood around going, “that’s just the worst idea, what a crap idea.” It just seemed so wrong, why would a nightclub do that? After about 10 minutes of giving out about it, we realised our microphones were strapped to our chests, so he was probably able to hear everything that we were saying!

Funny enough when the ad came out that bit was left in and it was an absolutely brilliant piece. It just goes to show there’s a reason you’re on this side of the camera and not on the other side."

Since the ad Vincent has mainly been focusing on production & direction work with his company Wilde Shamrock Touring Theatre but has still appeared in the odd TV commercial. You may remember seeing him in particular as a patriotic lover of Brady's Ham.

Overall, along with being part of an Iconic advert, Vincent says the experience of his short stay in Brazil was incredibly enjoyable.

"It was ridiculous. There was obviously a budget, it was a Diageo ad, so there was a fairly good budget for it. It was one of those ads that you really got to feel what it felt like be a bit of a movie start for seven or eight days. It was great fun. The two other actors were absolutely smashing fun. They were great company so actually we ended up having a really good time."

 

Sean Power

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