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25 April 2017 01:06 (South Africa)
Opinionista Victor Dlamini

Hangover blues, the money-maker

  • Victor Dlamini
    Victor Dlamini photo
    Victor Dlamini

    Dlamini is a writer, critic, traveller and portrait photographer. He also has a day job, sort of.

    His portraits of writers have been published in many top literary publications, but he mostly makes his living as Chairman of the Chillibush Group of Companies, which deals in the dark arts of advertising, public relations and event management.

    In 2007 Dlamini was the recipient of the South African Literary Awards' Literary Journalism prize. He regularly reviews books, especially from Southern Africa, and presents the The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast.

    Recent columns:

I may have my doubts about the effectiveness of hangover cures, but I have always admired those who create and market these concoctions.

Each time I hear one of their campaigns, I realise that these are people who have studied the hangover and know it is no child's play. So they zero in on how nasty the hangover is and they promise the sufferer who turns to their product instant relief.

You have to give it to them for marshalling all their knowledge to position their product as the solution to all babalaas blues. Still, there are as many advocates of these cures as there are detractors. But the merchants know that for as long as there are those who drink and party hard, they will be in business.??It is, of course, no surprise at all that none of the magic hangover cures highlights the importance of moderation as the best way to prevent the terrible hangover. No one can expect them to promote the kind of behaviour that would reduce demand for their much-vaunted cures.

Not only do they come up with the most colourfully named products for their hangover cures, but if you listen closely to their campaigns, you get the sense that they are having the last laugh. I think you need to have your tongue lodged firmly in your cheek to make some of the claims made on behalf of hangover cures. But marketers know that nothing sells as well as what the target market wants to hear.

In the land of hangover cures they make outlandish claims on behalf of their products. Short of reviving one from the dead, there is nothing their concoction cannot do – or so they claim. From their messages it is quite clear that the dreaded babalaas is one of the most unwelcome side effects of the hard-partying season. It is why the hangover cure becomes so irresistible to those under the spell of a once-off or, in certain sad cases, permanent hangover.

The promises of relief are always highly welcome. It is this, more than anything else, that the purveyors of hangover cures understand. For those who cannot stay away from drink need to know that instant salvation is at hand.??You would have thought that the hard times would reduce the hard partying, but quite the opposite seems to have happened.  Even during these austere times when the word recession has become commonplace, South Africans have not lost their ability to party hard. As we enter the holiday season and all accept that this is a time of unrestrained revelry, the merchants of hangover cures reappear.

Each holiday season they come bearing the promise of uninhibited indulgence to those wise enough to take the hangover cure.  Like their counterparts who sell weight-loss concoctions, they are fully alive to the fact that the promise must be so powerful as to banish any doubt.

It doesn't matter that many of those who turn to the these cures do so half doubting whether they do in fact work. They see these as the only solution. Of course, turning to a hangover cure is at best an act of faith, but in matters of faith it is always best to hold on to a powerful message.??And it is in their ability to create powerful messages that the genius of those selling hangover cures primarily lies. This is why they all settle on names that are as colourful as they are unforgettable. After all, who wants a hangover cure with a name that is difficult to recall in the grip of a hangover when the brain and body are painfully slow.

The standard message that promises instant relief from the nasty babalaas is a compelling one  when you are in the grip of a hangover. I have no doubt that the promise of relief must sound such sweet music to the ears of those suffering a legendary hangover.??The appearance of messages promoting the various hangover cures is the clearest sign that the holiday season is in full swing. It is also a time when commonsense becomes quite uncommon.

  • Victor Dlamini
    Victor Dlamini photo
    Victor Dlamini

    Dlamini is a writer, critic, traveller and portrait photographer. He also has a day job, sort of.

    His portraits of writers have been published in many top literary publications, but he mostly makes his living as Chairman of the Chillibush Group of Companies, which deals in the dark arts of advertising, public relations and event management.

    In 2007 Dlamini was the recipient of the South African Literary Awards' Literary Journalism prize. He regularly reviews books, especially from Southern Africa, and presents the The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast.

    Recent columns:

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