What’s Wrong With Marketing Alcohol? Nothing I Guess – Just Don’t “Buy” the Lifestyle….



I’ve had this search window open in my browser for the past few months…It’s an image search of the Givenchy Antigona bag, in black, smooth, calfskin, medium. If you haven’t seen this bag, quit reading the article right now and Google it. It’s been around for a few years, but has stood the test of (lightning fast fashion) time, and is still very much “it.”


This year’s Horizon bag may be sharper, but (in my humble opinion) nothing can touch the Antigona. And although I don’t have nearly the funds for my own Antigona (I don’t have nearly the funds for even her dupe counterpart), I keep the page open. Sometimes when I’m checking work emails, I steal loving glances at Givenchy Antigona in black, smooth calfskin, medium… Sometimes when I’m home surfing Netflix, I just take a pause to appreciate her beauty.


Ad Sense

There’s one ad that comes up in the search that always always catches my eye. It’s a picture of a slender, classically feminine woman with delicate gold jewelry. The Antigona is resting softly in the crook of her elbow, and she appears to be walking somewhere of importance. I imagine this woman has a very glamorous job she’s devoted to.


Yes, I imagine she eats several small meals a day and her pajamas always match. This woman’s name is probably Eve, and she lives in the “exclusive area” of some metropolis. Each morning, Eve perfumes and powders her tiny frame and carefully toddles to work on her 5-inch business casuals. Eve gets 8 hours of sleep every night and drinks a liter of tepid lemon water every day. She is probably walking home from spinning… buzzing with lists and inspiration for the approaching week (Eve loves Mondays). She stops for a black coffee and a fresh bouquet of ranunculus at her favorite grocer. A man named Jonathan sees her adorably trying to balance her wallet atop her giant coffee cup, and knows immediately she will be his wife…


All because of that darn bag.


That’s what I imagine, at least. Split second. Flicking through a Google search in my sweatpants. Suddenly I hate my job and I hate my thighs and I wonder where are MY blush pink ranunculus?!


Marketing is a powerful, powerful tool. There’s a reason such exorbitant amounts of money, research, and resources go into promoting a product. As you’ve probably heard, companies sell an experience when they sell a product. They’re selling a lifestyle. An often unattainable, unrealistic, and ridiculous lifestyle that literally nobody has, wants, or needs.


No one is Eve.




As much as we’d like to be…

I think it’s fair to say Givenchy’s luxury handbags have me hooked. But they aren’t the only company vying for my attention. Alcohol powerhouses work hard to make their products appear lust-worthy. Guaranteeing their audience that a particular brand of booze = the GREATEST NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE, going glamorous places with fabulous people, all while maintaining your elegant wit and composure. Take a look at these ads:





What’s wrong with marketing?

Nothing, really, I guess… it makes the world go round. But when it’s tied to behaviors that make us unwell, we should take a closer look. In addition to maintaining a sober lifestyle in the midst of folks peddling the stuff at sports games, concerts, weddings, frat parties, romantic dinners, festivals and fair grounds… we come home to find it on our tv and computer screens. Even if we don’t keep it in the house, alcohol barges in during our favorite shows, movies, music, magazines, and the internet… Where’s a sober gal to turn?!

Take a breath, sober gal. You’re doing great.

Cravings and triggers are not your fault, nor are they a sign of weakness or poor resolve. On a most basic level, our brains repeat the patterns that are most familiar. An alcoholic’s brain has built pathways that cue REWARD when it hears the TSST of a bottle opening.


So. As an individual in recovery it’s important to live life, not live in fear. It’s also important to take precautions about where and how you’re spending your time. Bit of a tightrope.

One step may be to avoid commercials for a little while. HBO, NOW, Netflix, Hulu, and online streaming make it easier to bypass ads. (My partner and I are enjoying Westworld, The X-Files, and Bob’s Burgers right now – all commercial free.)

Avoidance, however, isn’t realistic all of the time. Try these:


Getting through the first few moments can be the hardest part.


Talismans, reminders and sacred texts are tools that can be used anywhere, any time.


Remain active in your sober community. Open up about what you’re struggling with. In addition to receiving feedback and support, you may help someone who’s struggling with a similar issue.


Of your cravings. As a counselor, I use every opportunity to learn new information about a client. Feeling triggered? Why? Where are you? What does it feel like in your body? How have you handled this in the past? How would you like to handle it in the future? Is this something you can talk to a counselor or sponsor about?


Above all else, have a plan. It’s important to develop a strategy. Know what you plan to do to stop yourself from following through on an urge, before the craving occurs. This way, you’ll feel a little more in-control.


And the wonderful thing about cravings? They go away eventually. Now if I could only follow my own advice and curb my 2AM pizza habit… And close the browser on the purse…





Author Jess Kimmel has always had a passion for art and when she discovered art therapy it just made sense. Jess is an Art Therapist who serves as Clinical Manager, Sanford House at Cherry Street for Women. Jess has a B.S in Psychology and an M.S. in Art Therapy. Art therapy allows her creativity to shine through her work and she thrives on seeing the confidence grow in the individuals she works with at Sanford Behavioral Health. Jess is from Hartland, Michigan and currently lives in Grand Rapids.