Conference Exhibitors Giving Away Booze

The Vendor Expos at major legal conferences are always fun to stroll, especially if you need a sugar fix. There’s enough free candy to keep your dentist busy. Branded pens, coffee mugs, and beer koozies are also in abundance.

Not long ago, I was walking in the aisles before I keynoted. It was about ten a.m., and I came upon a tray of airline-style, plastic liquor bottles set out on a silver tray. I did a double-take. Maybe it’s a joke and they are filled with soda?  Nope, they were legit. Bacardi, Dewars, and Jack Daniels.

The vendor certainly knew its audience. Maybe they read the same study I did. In a profession where over twenty percent of licensed attorneys qualify as “alcoholics”, it would seem the perfect lure. There was a time when I would have rushed back to my room, ripped the valet laundry bag off the hanger, and arm-swooped all the bottles into it. With seventeen years of sobriety, I simply backed away to a safe distance and watched. Who was going to partake?

Hook them in, get them smashed, and sell the product. Thirty minutes passed with some odds looks, but no takers. It came time for me to speak. Afterward, I wondered back. Some bottles were still there but fewer in number. I went to lunch. When I returned, all the bottles were gone. Lunch drinking is more popular than breakfast drinking. It was certainly outside-the-box marketing, but do we really need that?  One vendor was selling anti-aging skin cream I couldn’t afford. They talked me into it. No alcohol necessary.


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