For those readers not in Ontario, the LCBO is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the government entity empowered to market, sell, and distribute alcohol in this province. As a crown corporation, not only do they have a monopoly on booze sales, but they also have a mandate to promote moderation and safe consumption.
Wait, what? Moderation and safe consumption messaging coming from the only organization allowed to sell (and reap the profits from) the stuff? I know, right?
Anyway, their new campaign is a masterpiece of subtle, subversive marketing. The same group that supplies the liquor to bars and restaurants opened their own alcohol free pop-up bar to demonstrate that you don’t need alcohol to have a good time.
Positive message. You can go out with your friends, have a night on the town, and you don’t need to drink for it to be fun.
But that’s only if you take it at face value. If you really watch their ad promoting the event, the real story is revealed: you need booze. The campaign actually sets out to prove that a night out without alcohol sucks. (Which makes more sense coming from the group that sells the stuff.)
Take a look. Here are some actual photos from the LCBO’s alcohol free “party.” Does anyone in this picture look like they are actually having a good time?
Note the girl on the right. She is clearly staring into her glass and wondering, “What the hell is this?”
Oh, well, at least the staff are having fun preparing drinks for their sober clients. Nope. Ladies and gentlemen, I have spent a fair amount of time in bars, and I’ve never seen servers look as bored as these guys.
Finally, this shot shows the subtle intimidation that the LCBO is using to get you to drink. If there is no alcohol to be had, but the bartenders have to prepare cocktails, what will you be drinking? Raw eggs.
Yay! You can go out, go to a club, hang with your friends without any alcohol. However, if you do, you’ll be bored out of your mind being served raw eggs by surly staff. Well played, LCBO. Well played. Pass the bourbon.
I’m not even kidding. People sitting in the waiting room of an overcrowded walk-in clinic are having more fun than these guys. You can watch the whole ad for yourself on YouTube.