Thursday, July 14, 2005

I say, Doctor, ain't there nothin' I can take?

Both McDonald’s and Hardee’s are marketing their breakfast fare at a segment of the population that had previously received scant attention from anyone outside of the aspirin and antacid industry. In their wisdom, they recognize that the chronically hung-over are a potentially lucrative market waiting to be tapped.

McDonald’s print ad is running in national magazines and shows a man with a freshly-shaved reverse Mohawk, the result, we suspect, of a particularly raucous evening. Hardee’s (whose Toronto Road location recently closed) is airing a TV ad features a man who is so debilitated by the effects of alcohol withdrawal that he is unable to undo a twist-tie on a loaf of bread. Both ads offer a greasy breakfast sandwich as a panacea for their predicament.

Marketers are finally awakening to the fact that, in addition to pounding heads and sour stomachs, the hung-over exhibit other needs and are prone to other feelings that make them particularly susceptible to certain sales pitches. Local businesses and organizations should take note.


Hunger, or at least the need to eat something, is a common morning-after effect and the fast food industry is wise to jump in and fill this void with their promise of greasy food. Local cafes can also cater to this crowd by offering free refills on coffee and keeping the shades drawn.

A really bad hangover is often accompanied by feelings of heavy remorse causing the afflicted to feel that they are a bad person. This is the perfect time for charitable organizations to play upon these insecurities by passing them the hat with the promise that a sizable donation will set them back down the path of righteousness. A person faced with the fact that their life is so pathetic that they would down an entire bottle of Cuervo probably couldn’t bear, psychologically speaking, the thought of being pathetic AND indifferent to the fate of the spotted owl.

A particularly brutal hangover will often lead to bartering with a higher power in exchange for relief. Peddlers of that old time religion might do well then to stake out parking lots of apartment complexes, waiting for potential converts to return with their mega breakfast sandwich, then offering sweet salvation from the hell fires of the delirium tremens.

Hangovers are often times of great reflection. Vows to clean-up and adopt a healthier and more vigorous lifestyle are often declared, but usually forgotten once the fog begins to lift. This means that Sunday mornings provide the perfect window of opportunity for health clubs to pitch memberships through sales calls. Just be sure to get a credit card number before the blue law expires at noon, or the eye of the tiger might become blurred by the hair of the dog.

In coastal towns, clinics offering tattoo removal might do well with an advertising campaign targeting those who were inked while inebriated. But Springfield lacks a boardwalk where tattoo parlors beckon the soused as they exit the saloons in a state of wild inhibition, so the need is probably not as prevalent.

But payday loans, legal services, marriage counseling – all of these take on a more urgent need when a person is attempting to pick-up the pieces of the previous night out while nursing a head that is as susceptible to suggestion as it is impervious to reason.

In short, the savvy advertiser will hit them when they're hurting and pitch them when they're puking. Each evening a band of revelers takes to the taverns, each morning a new target market is created.

You know? Drinking Buddies is starting to look like a pretty shrewd way to peddle newspaper subscriptions after all.

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