Ladies Night In Buffalo — Yet another case of ignoring the vision of public relations

I don’t recall if “Ladies Night In Buffalo” was a big hit for David Lee Roth, as I never cared much for the whole Van Halen genre. But it sure was popular song on the east end of Lake Erie in 1986. That I do remember.

Ladies’ night promotions helped to pack the night clubs on Wednesdays across the Niagara Frontier. Women drank free and, naturally, men spent lavishly for the privilege of meeting drunk women.

It wasn’t until the personal injury lawyers came along that these “get loaded cheap” promotions became a PR problem for the clubs that sponsored them. When drunk patrons drove off to kill or maim innocent victims, juries began to hold night club owners accountable along with the drivers. Faced with huge losses and skyrocketing insurance costs, bar owners turned to their PR counselors for advice.

Back in the 80s I did some work for hotel & restaurant owners in Buffalo, and I recall coming up with the perfect answer to their problem. I suggested installing coin-operated breath analyzers in every bar. This way, patrons could check their own BAC before leaving. Those blowing in the “red zone” could opt for other ways home — even asking the bartender to call a cab, or at least to hide the customers’ keys.

The 4 club managers at this meeting roared in unison. When the laughter subsided one said: “That’s been tried. It turns into a contest of who can score the highest BAC without passing out.”

Ah, the macho 80s. My head hurts just thinking about it.

It was my turn to laugh this week, when this story appeared in Wednesday’s Akron Beacon Journal. Seems that a local gin mill called Beer 30 has installed an Alcohol Alert breath analyzer. For a buck a blow, you can get a fairly precise reading of your breath alcohol content. The manufacturer, Ke-Ro Corp., claims the machine is accurate to within .02 percent.

One Beer 30 patron said: “I think it’s a great idea. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one in a bar.”

So there you have it — another case where the wisdom of PR counsel was ignored lo those many years ago. I had the answer, I tell you, and the client just laughed. Ask anyone who was in the meeting.

For me, it’s another one of those Butch Cassidy moments. “I have vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

7 Responses to Ladies Night In Buffalo — Yet another case of ignoring the vision of public relations

  1. Blair Boone says:

    Forget it, Bill. It’s Buffalo.

  2. Breeze says:

    You just keep thinkin’, Butch. That’s what you’re good at.

  3. Colin Morris says:

    ::searches for related posts and stories containing the phrase “a buck a blow”::

    Nope, you’re the only one.

    Anyway, it does seem like a good idea. I’m frustrated by the machine’s lack of guranteed accuracy or legal authority: unlike police breathalizers, it’s not re-calibrated after each use, so police say you just shouldn’t drive anyway. Or so the story’s last line usually read last week.

  4. Stacia Capponi says:

    I think the idea of a breathalizer machine in bars is good but needs alot more thought to the idea. Atleast putting an the machines in is making some effort to the problem. What effort for change are those who laughed making? As a PR person you have to come up with ideas for change, even if they may seem far fetched, its more than you started with.
    As for having a breathalizer machine in bars, I can see how it would turn into a joke and contest. Having someone monitoring the machine might be something to think about. This idea definitly could work if set up right.

  5. Ashley Sikora says:

    Having a breathalizer in a bar IS a little out there. If your able to make the responsible decision to drink then your able to make the responsible decision “should I drive?”. Is the bar breathalizer really going to make a difference in whether a person is going to drive drunk or not? If the person is going to drive drunk, they’re going to drive drunk, whether you have the bar breathalizer or not. I can see where it can turn into a contest to see who has a higher blood alcohol level. For this to really work you have to have it set up differently so people know that this is a serious matter, not for fun and games. You probably have to have it monitored and someone taking away your car keys if your blood alcohol level too high.
    I do agree with Stacia though, from a PR prospective you have to come up with crazy ideas , in order to change an ordinary thing into extraordinary, so that you can grab peoples attention. If planned out correctly this might work.

  6. Courtney Spring says:

    Coming for a PR point of view I do think it was a good idea to come up with the machine in the bar, what else can you do to make your bar look good, and trying to look out for its customers and other people driving.But people go to the bar to get drunk, or at least have a couple drinks. I think it is ridiculous that people actually complained and pointed fingers at the bar owners, that is their job for people to go there and drink their alcohol. It is the consumer’s responsibility to get a ride after they have been drinking, not the bar’s responsibility, and the machine in the bar is making it the bar’s responsibility.
    Yes, the machine is a good PR stunt, but no I do not think it should be in the bar because everyone knows that even if you have two beers you are more than likely(depending on weight) going to break the law. You learn in as early as high school to always have a designated driver: so be responsible and have a plan before you even go out and there will be no reason for this. But for those who are not responsible and don’t think of themselves or everyone else around them at the end of the night, then maybe I do believe you could possibly prevent an accident from happening by allowing the machine into bars.

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