“Opium” accidentally makes a solid case for good branding

In what appears to be a rehashed press release [run free of a byline] in the Portland Press Herald, today we learn that there’s a new Portland bar called Opium opening in the middle of this month.

Dearest owners of Opium: It is not too late to change your name, what with our state enduring an opioid crisis that is claiming the life of at least one Mainer a day and all.

This isn’t even a morality plea, or an outrage thing. I just want you to have a fair go of it, and maybe it hasn’t fully sunk in that opium dens were basically the crack houses of the turn of the 20th Century, where sad, emaciated opioid addicts would succumb to their addiction. There is still time to think up something good.

“Hey, man. Want to go to Hospice and get a drink?”

“Nah, but I’d love to check out Pediatric Cancer Center.”

“I just went there. How about Suicide Hotline?”

Apparently this is part of an effort to re-brand, where you’re switching to Opium from Tempo Dulu. This is, as it was pointed out to me, Indonesian for “the good old days” and “a really callous reference to the time when the Dutch still controlled Indonesia.” Is that true? Even if it’s half true, this means that you’ve got to nail this re-brand.

And what does “not even the ice is ordinary” mean? What is in the ice? Was there demand for abnormal ice from opium dens?

My good friend Spose suggested that hey, this got us talking about it and that’s always good when it comes to marketing. But no. Controversy is effective when it comes to marketing until you have to live with it. “Hey! I have lesions on my junk!” is an effective way to get people talking about your junk, but it doesn’t serve your junk’s ultimate mission.”

And this has been another episode of “Proper Ways to Market Your Junk w. Alex Steed”

Speaking of junk, just in case you’re saying this outside of press releases, while referring to your drinks you call them “barely legal.” Maybe you know or maybe you don’t, but “Barely Legal” is the name of a porno magazine in which 18 and 19 year old women are made up to look as though they are younger, so we’re at three strikes here.

“Our cocktails? They’re just like a naked 19 year old dressed down to look like she’s 14.”

And not that there can be more strikes than three, but none of this goes as far as to mention that you’d mentioned a drink called The Sheik that one drinks out of a hookah? What’s going on over there?

A great branding firm is worth its weight in avoiding situations like these.

I very honestly want this to work out for you and  strongly believe that naming your bar for the root of the epidemic killing Mainers by the thousands probably isn’t the best way to make that happen.

Opium. It’s not too late.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.