Hey! It seemed like a good idea on paper, didn't it? I mean, what could possibly go wrong with Milwaukee's new Santiago Calatrava designed art museum hosting a Clear-Channel sponsored festival where patrons pay $30 to drink as many martinis as they can possibly fit into their heads?
However, little did the organizers realize that Milwaukee's Martini Fest would eventually turn into the art-community's equivalent of "Ten Cent Beer Night" at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium in 1974. Rowdy? You bet! As one patron witnessed:
A group of four young men climbed onto "Standing Woman," a tall, bronze sculpture of a goddess-like woman with exaggerated features by early 20th-century American artist Gaston Lachaise.
"They were standing on it, grabbing the boobs, and somebody was just taking pictures with a cell phone," said Laura Collins, 35.
Now, I'm not a marketing genius by any stretch, but there are certain things which should never be turned into a promotional gimmick. For example: "Bat Day" at Yankee Stadium when the Red Sox are in town seems like a bad idea. Also, a zoo should never have "Pet the Lion Day." And, a museum in Milwaukee that houses any number of priceless works of art should never expect its patrons to be well-behaved when alcohol is involved.
So, what went wrong? Well, one quote from the review suggests:
""Hindsight is 20-20 . . . it was probably too cheap," Kerry Wolfe, a local programming director for Clear Channel, said of the event's premise - unlimited martinis for $30. "
Now, insofar as that sort of logic probably makes "perfect" sense to this Clear-Channel person, what he or she fails to grasp is, in Milwaukee, it doesn't matter what the price is. We see that sort of thing as a challenge. For instance, if you make the price $30, we are not leaving until we drink at least $30 worth. Make it $150, and you'll just wind up with people staying longer and drinking more, and when the time starts ticking closer to closing time, people will inevitably drink faster. If you make it a thousand-bucks, you'll have people showing up with furniture and moving in, and if you kick them out, there's a pretty good chance that they, and their furniture, will show up at your house looking for an after-bar party. You can't win.