When the New York Jets announced last week that they would not sell alcohol at their Jan. 3 Sunday night game, thinly advertised Majorska Vodka saw an opening for a major PR coup.
The company put out a press release claiming that the lack of alcohol sales at the stadium would cost it $100,000 in revenue due to lost "tailgate parties," and it urged consumers to boycott Johnson & Johnson products because of the company's family connection to Jets' owner Woody Johnson. (The brand even circulated petitions in bars.)
This is, of course, completely absurd and obviously untrue: A ban on in-stadium sales doesn't limit tailgating at all, and vodka sales -- particularly of bottom-shelf brands such as Majorska -- make up only a tiny fraction of in-stadium booze sales (which are dominated by beer).
But that didn't stop the transparent, craven media ploy from grabbing headlines in the New York Times (where it appeared as a brief in print, before being updated in a blog post), on CNN.com and in the New York Post, as well as on numerous blogs.
Reached at his office, Martin Silver, CEO of Star Industries, which markets Majorska, quickly recanted the claim that the company could have lost $100,000 on the stadium booze ban. "Somebody put an extra few zeroes in there," he said.
That "somebody," of course, works for Mr. Silver: The figure was in a press release Star distributed.
Majorska likely stood to gain from the ban, because fans seeking a game-time buzz were going to have to bring their booze to the parking lots, instead of buying it in the stadium.
And, of course, when an event like a booze ban sends more people than usual to liquor stores, it's nice to be the brand with your name in the paper.
"It got folks talking [about the brand], and that's what you need," Mr. Silver said. When pressed, he said the company likely sold more vodka as a result of the ban, but added that he didn't have sales figures yet.
Whatever the returns, it's unlikely this will be the last stunt of its type from Mr. Silver.
In 2008, he made headlines by telling anyone who would listen that his flagship brand, Georgi vodka, was in talks to put pictures of Eliot Spitzer's call girl Ashley Dupree's rear end on ads on New York City buses and taxis. And, just last Thanksgiving, he tried to gin up controversy with Mothers Against Drunk Driving over a turkey-soaked-in-vodka recipe.