Sunday, December 5, 2021

If You Have a Phone


Let’s face it. I don’t write enough about Ellicott City. It just doesn’t feel like my neck of the woods. I do look for stories from all over Columbia/HoCo. And I have written some pieces over the years. But it’s not my strong suit. I could definitely do better. 

I was mulling this over this morning while scrolling through tweets about Midnight Madness in Old Ellicott City. Have you ever been? I haven’t. I’d love to know your impressions of it. My guess is that it’s just too “peopley” for me, but maybe one of these years I’ll get it together and venture over. I’m certainly tempted.

Back to Twitter. In the midst of all the lovely photographs and descriptions came one rather startling tweet:

Law Offices of XYZ: Old Ellicott City: Don’t turn midnight madness into day after regret! Don’t drink and drive! But if you’re reading this too late: call our emergency line @ 343-2794 .* 

I’m trying to remember the term for this. Is it suggestive selling? I’m not sure.

“Come on down to Midnight Madness in Old Ellicott City. Would you like a DUI with that?”

Sure, stores place umbrellas prominently when it rains and car scrapers when it snows. Enterprising citizens use their yards to sell parking spaces near festival events. Vendors line the sidewalks approaching Camden Yards with snacks and souvenirs. I remember noting a local promotion from Idea Lab Kids to care for children while their parents went to Wine in the Woods. A creative business with a good idea can make a connection between the product or service they are marketing and a local event. That’s smart marketing.

Then why did I find this one so off-putting? Well, probably because I associate drinking and driving with horrific collisions, permanent injury, and tragic loss off life. The advert reads more like, “let me help you with your legal inconvenience.” 

As awful as it sounds, this advert reminded me of those television ads where a deep-voiced announcer intones, “If you or a loved one have suffered or died from xyz, call this number.” And you think, honestly, if I have died from xyz I am not going to be able to call your number. 

Perhaps one could think of this tweet as a public service, a warning that actions have consequences. I honestly don’t know what to think. But deep down it feels to me like creative marketing. If you have enough money to go to Midnight Madness and drink too much, you probably have enough money to pay a lawyer. And everyone needs money around the holidays, even lawyers. 

Oh, I am so jaded. Feel free to tell me about how great Ellicott City is, and your experiences of Midnight Madness. My attitude needs adjusting. 

*Actual telephone number replaced. 

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