Hurricanes’ new marketing flawed, but will pay dividends

Apparently Hurricanes Bar has decided to change its game plan for the rest of the semester. Last Thursday the Oswego bar posted this on its Facebook page:

“TONIGHT FREE COVER FOR 21+! $10 for 19-20 ALL NIGHT! DJ_SWANN will be playing the HOTTEST music in all of Oswego! $9 Fishbowls, $2.50 Hurricanes Pitchers of beer and 50¢ Mugs! And remember buy a Hurricanes Pitcher at the bar and keep it! Bring it with you every Thursday for $2.50 refills! See you there! [all sic]”

I, like some Oswego State students, enjoy the nightlife of Oswego. This seems to be the first attempt at an under-21 “club” in the Port City since the days of Club Crystal (I apologize for inducing any flashbacks). It’s an interesting idea on Hurricanes’ part. While the marketing could definitely improve (I’ll get to that later), it’s a great way to increase revenue in a competitive market.

Thursdays are a big night out in Oswego and this could be exactly what Hurricanes needed to move the herd from across the street. The demographic of students who aren’t actually older than 21, yet find their way into bars anyway, is a huge market that Oswego bars should be targeting (legally of course). Underage students are going to find their way in, if they want to find their way in. But if you grab their attention earlier in their college career, you have that much more time to sell them your product.

This plan works favorably for the 21 and up demographic as well. As college students, two things naturally attract us: crowds and cheap access to alcohol. We are going to go where people are and wherever cost less to drink. By (hopefully) filling the bar by allowing the 19-20 age group, there will be plenty more fishbowls in the sea (sorry, but the fishbowl pun was inevitable). And by letting in the 21 and up crowd for free, we are drawn in even further.

Despite the praise, I do have one major gripe with their method of marketing. The Facebook post mentions nothing of the fact, and I’m just assuming here, 19 and 20-year-olds cannot actually drink the alcohol. The post talks about drink specials and explicitly invites the demographic to enjoy these drinks. Whether this is on purpose or not, it is walking a tight line with legality.

In the same vein, how will bouncers and bartenders differentiate between those who are and are not old enough to consume alcohol? Although a different stamp or bracelet will be given to the 19 and 20-year-olds (assuming here, once again), there are always ways to break the rules. Placing both demographics in the same environment can definitely cause some issues.

But aside from the marketing flaw and potential problems, I do like the move. The bars of Oswego are constantly contesting for our money, and this is just Hurricanes’ attempt to get to the top. Old City is normally flooded on Thursdays and Hurricanes being across the street is a great opportunity for business.

So good for you, Hurricanes. I commend your effort. Some people really loved Club Crystal; hell, maybe the “dancing cage” is still next door.