Coors low-alcoholic beer never did make it to the shelves.
Simply put, it was a bad idea, and it came from a punk college student in the early 1990s. That would be me. I had a brilliant concept for one of my final projects in my Advertising 300 class. The goal was to either enhance an existing product or come up with something entirely new through an ad campaign.
My first thought was to create a revolutionary promotional package for Hidden Valley Ranch. Back then it was being marketed solely as a salad dressing. I thought there were many more uses for the tangy sauce and was all set to churn out an ‘A’. However, I had problems retrieving data necessary for the project, and in a nervous twitch changed my entire platform to Coors beer.
The idea was to create a beer with low alcohol content. The kick would still be there, but not enough to impair your driving or the ability to operate heavy machinery. Again, this is coming from the mind of a 20-year-old. I had what I thought was an effective campaign, but the further out I paddled the harder it was to float. It turned into a disaster.
My slip, however, is nothing compared to the catastrophic, 120-story fall our industry has suffered thanks to the “Big Dig” project in Boston.
The sloppy tunnel system has received negative press for well over a decade, and it looked as if the congestion-relieving tubes were finally producing results with serious vertical. Through the month of May, traffic was moving with relative ease.
Then came the drop, which was followed by a death plunge. First there was the indictment of six men involved with the Big Dig project. They were accused of supplying weak cement to the job. Tragedy soon followed, as a motorist traveling on I-93 to the Ted Williams Tunnel was fatally struck by a chunk of ceiling. It came from the tunnel system’s massive ventilation system, one that was talked up as the most powerful in the world when it was first installed.
Two solid conclusions have been reached on the cause: Bolts holding the panel slipped out of the epoxy clinging to the concrete, and the absence of some sort of anchorage system made the ceiling too difficult to hold.
Failure also continues to ooze from forced pores of the tunnel walls. There have been thousands of reported leaks and a couple were serious. The tunnels will forever battle the immense pressure of high tides. During construction, much of this danger was eliminated because work areas were sealed off and water pumped out.
I know hindsight is 20/20, but now it appears certain that placing concrete blocks into soily soup would only produce soggy and burning results. Those in power assumed control of every angle of this project. It was like giving a loaded and cocked gun to a 6-year-old.
What was once dubbed a wonder of the world is now a pitiful felon that should be placed on death row. For the long term, we need to learn from a catastrophic series of mistakes. The best way this blunder could benefit the industry is to serve as a guide of what not to do. Massachusetts is trying to set up a board which would watch every future move of the Big Dig. All states should have the same independent panel in place to monitor the progress of major projects. As for the short term, well, that is a little more complicated. We need to find a way to hold up that deadly ceiling. It’s the first step toward lending a hand to a heavy load of sunken dignity.