For almost a decade I have curated and hosted The Brownbread Mixtape, a themed variety show that showcases the best in music, spoken word poetry, and sketch comedy. One of the many shows was centred around the the theme of “drinking”. So, in the spirit of mischievousness (and to generate comedy material for the purposes of hosting the show) I fired off a series of letters to the makers of a variety of alcoholic beverages seeking sponsorship for myself and/or The Brownbread Mixtape. Below are the speculative and outlandishly stupid letters that I actually sent to the various companies in question. While the letters were ultimately absurd and silly in tone, at the heart of them lies perhaps a serious point about the lack of funding for many sectors of the arts. Only one of the companies ever came back with a response – Bulmers cider – and they seemed to get it was a joke, thanking me for the opportunity but gracefully declining. I am a Bulmers drinker for life as a result. Guinness sent back a generic response saying they would delete my email immediately as they cannot receive pitches for commercials, as they presumably could get sued for stealing ideas. None of the others ever responded, yet I still hold out hope like a drunken Friday night reveler. I hope that you enjoy reading them and take them in the silly spirit(s) they were written!
#1 Devil’s Bit Cider
Dear Devil’s Bit
I am writing to you first and foremost as a big fan of your cider. It’s gorgeous.
Secondly I am writing to you as curator of a popular Dublin gig called “the brownbread mixtape” and as an award-winning performance poet with a small, dedicated following. In other words, I am a minor celebrity who has been described as quite good looking with a good foothold in “the scene”
Right, lets get down to business. There’s no way of saying this without sounding insensitive, so I’m just going to put it out there unfiltered. Your cider has a bit of a reputation for being drunk by pissheads and wasters. More people have your cider for breakfast than dinner basically.
So, I’ll cut to the chase. I am looking for sponsorship to further my artistic career and in return I am offering you the opportunity to leverage my skills and celebrity status to up your profile in a new segment of the cider consumption market. The arts. I would have no ethical or moral issues with this because your cider is delicious and I am not one of those “I am in it for the art” kind of whingers.
I have loads of ideas on how we could make this sponsorship work but here is one, just off the top of my head. You’ve probably seen Bulmers laughable new ads with celebrity economist David McWilliams. Now, I am a personal friend of the younger, cooler celebrity economist Ronan Lyons and I am sure I could convince him to be a part of a more edgy ad campaign for Devil’s Bit. We could poke fun at those pricks at Bulmers whilst maybe throwing in a few sound financial predictions while we’re at it. I would leave that part up to Ronan.
I would love to work with you to develop an advertising campaign and sign a pact with Devil’s Bit. Failing that, I would love some complimentary bottles of cider.
[Note: The economist Ronan Lyons was even kind enough to share the original link to the letters on his Twitter account, so this still has the potential to happen. Come on Devil’s Bit, do the right thing]
#2 Buckfast Tonic Wine
Dear Buckfast brothers,
I know that you are an order of Benedictine monks so I will try to keep this email quiet.
My name is Brother K and I come from a secret order of Irish monks called “Ar Meisce”. Every month we have a service and gathering in the ancient, sacred chapel upstairs in the “Head of the Stag temple” in Dublin city. As we have fallen on hard times and you seem to be thriving, thanks in no small part to an abundance of students, hipsters and rip-roaring alcoholics who chug your wine like the apocalypse is coming, we are approaching you to be our financial benefactors and patrons for the remainder of our days. We are looking for 10 grand per month to maintain our current standard of praying and serving the Lord.
While we cannot force you to do this, we can only say that it would be what Christ would have done. And failure to do so will most likely condemn you to eternal damnation or some such variation on that theme.
God bless you brothers and may your wine always be fortified
# 3 Cristal Champagne
Yes yes y’all. / Sippin Cristal , you can call me Kal. /
In Dublin 4 they call for more / Pints of Heino, then champers / SCORE! //
The bubbles are nice, the bubbles are nice / The Cristal bubbles at a nice nice price.
This is Kalle Ryan the poet and that is a little sample of some sweet new lyrics I am working on for my upcoming crossover into the hip-hop world. I will go by MC Kalle Greenz . At present I am a Z-grade celebrity in Ireland who performs poetry and hosts a savage night called the brownbread mixtape.
Now, I know you had a strong market share amongst rappers and hip-hop artists because of Jay Z and other cool motherfuckers. I also know that your CEO made some ignorant racist remarks in an interview with The Economist in 2006 which led to a big drop off in your hip-hop purchasing demographic. But I am here today to bring that fizz back to your bubbly sales with a new hip-hop audience. In exchange for a 7 figure sponsorship sum from you, I will drink as much Cristal as is humanly possible. I will even do this at public events such as The Brownbread Mixtape, where we will serve Cristal at every table (you will pick up the tab for this as a separate charge).
I will then write, direct, edit and produce viral videos for Cristal with my posse of trained actors and writers, The Brownbread Players, which includes some serious ballers and hustlers. Their CV reads like a “Best of Irish TV and Film” like Ros na Run, Meteor ads, eMobile, Sky TV, Kilkenny Arts Festival and the voice of directory inquiries. I have a few ideas for the viral video but I won’t pop my creative cork here just yet.
Look, you’re busy people, I’m a busy person. Let’s not yank each others’ chain here. Give me an answer in 24 hours if this is your bag. If not I will sell my lyrical credentials to Courvoisier or some other brand that has a tangential association with the hip hop lifestyle
MC Kalle Greenz
#4 Smirnoff Ice
Dear Smirnoff Ice,
This may shock you but your drink is manky. I remember one night I spilt some on the ground and I thought, “the poor ground”. But look, I have an idea that might give you some credibility and make you be the drink choice of people other than gobshites.
How would you feel about sponsoring a bunch of layabout actors, comedians, musicians and arty types? Doesn’t sound that appealing, does it? What if I told you that those people are in fact the wildly talented components in the brownbread mixtape, a monthly indie gig sensation in Dublin city. Between the live show and our award winning web presence you would have literally a hundred people who could be duped into drinking your sugary boozy gargle. Give it some thought. Considering you have a ridiculous amount of money for publicity and marketing, why not shower some of it on this idea?
Get in touch if you’re serious about not being the laughing stock of the drinks fridge
P.S. I’ve seen your vociferous denials about the whole “getting iced” phenomenon but you’re not fooling anyone. Everyone knows you’re behind it. You’re some chancers!
#5 Jose Cuervo Tequila
You know and I know that no one has ever come away from a night drinking your Tequila saying: “That was such a mellow uneventful night full of pacifism and I really feel amazing today”
So, here’s a radical idea. Give me money to run a cool arts night in Dublin where your brand would be prominently featured and in return I will cut out the middle man and pour bottles of your tequila all over the bathroom floor and along the streets of Rathmines and near the Bernard Shaw pub.
Basically, we will also plug the hell out of your tequila and pretend that it isn’t a foul concoction.
I know what you’re thinking. This guy is crazy. But I might just be brilliant.
I am writing to inform you of an amazing opportunity that awaits you… in this very letter.
Can you guess what it is?
Yep, you’re absolutely right, I have an idea for an ad for you.
I am a published poet, so feel free to heighten your expectations at this early stage in our correspondence
Picture it, black & white footage of three barmen, moustaches, white shirts, black slacks, black ties, nice leather shoes. Not slip ons. All of them walking down Exchequer street in slo-mo. Each of them kicking an empty keg that’s rolling in front of them. In turn each one shouts “Bring out your dead!” As they pass pubs they’re joined by more barmen, similarly dressed, each one joining the parade and kicking an empty keg of their own until it becomes a parade of them up O’Connell street. Their backs suddenly and unexpectedly catch fire. The flames are deep orange and reds but the rest of the scene is in black & white. Cut to a pint of Guinness settling in a graveyard. It suddenly catches fire.
Caption: Guinness. It’s deadly.
All of this is beautifully scored by a song by Elder Roche. He is a deadly Dublin musician with a great hat and excellent songwriting skills. Plus I need to include him in this because we kinda came up with the idea together one night after a few scoops in the Stag’s Head. Although if we decide to shaft him we could maybe get a Massive Attack song instead. I love their stuff and anything in slow-mo looks deadly when you have a Massive Attack tune pumping over it. In fact, screw Elder, lets go with that.
If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then I am happy to sit down with you to discuss the possibility of me selling out completely as a poet and accepting sponsorship from you. I have been supporting you for years now, so I would be only delighted to receive your patronage. And cash.
#7 Bulmers Cider
How’s it going? My name is Kalle Ryan. Remember that name, it will become increasingly important as this letter goes on.
Ok, first things first. I love cider. Correction, I love your cider. Clonmel chardonnay we call it.
Second thing. I understand the whole Bulmers / Magners distinction. A few folks I know are still confused by it but they’re idiots, I totally get it. It’s historical and political, like everything in this country.
Ok third thing. I am a poet. Look me up on YouTube for cool samples of my undoubted talent. I have been a bit of an anti-establishment type of writer up until now and all about doing things for the love of it and for art’s sake. But I am basically sick of it. There’s no money in it and let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger.
So, this leads me to my proposition. I, Kalle Ryan, am offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity to partner up with me to be the first ever officially sponsored Irish poet. Loads of poets and writers and other layabouts have drank silly amounts of cider during their life. But how many of them were actually sponsored to drink that cider or write their poems? None of them, that’s how many.
Picture it now. Bulmers presents: Kalle Ryan. How cool does that sound? I’ll tell you. Very cool, that’s how cool. Provided you threw in a bit of extra wedge I would even be willing to change my name to ‘Bulmers presents Kalle Ryan’ and happily wear Bulmers t-shirts, caps and that kind of promotional tat all of the time.
Look I know you have McWilliams doing your ads at the moment, but let me give you some financial advice, he is a prat, a waste of money and people aren’t buying more cider because of him. I can do poems about cider and we can have people dancing in outrageous attire. In an orchard if you like. That’s the kind of shit people who drink cider absolutely love.
Give it some thought and let me know.
Bulmers presents Kalle Ryan
P.S. Is it true that you relaunched the Pear cider because the first version gave people the scutters?