Flipping through the Saturday Globe and Mail. It’s pretty clear the financial world at least is a mess, verging on disaster. Last time markets were this bad a recession was right around the corner. Maybe the extent of the asset backed paper fiasco is finally getting clearer, but that’s not clear either. Merrill Lynch is looking for a cash infusion of a few $billion and writing off something like $15 billion. Corporate default rates are at their lowest point in two years (good news) but are forecast to spark sharply by the end of 2008 as affects of the US downturn take affect.

So…it’s reassuring to see the Canada’s best brand marketer, the LCBO (Liquour Control Board of Ontario) hard at work with another super glossy 8 page insert. Measuring 11″ x 16″, this masterpiece flogs everything from Rockstar (vodka-based) Energy Drink (try that at the office!), to Heinekin 5L Draft Kegs (excellent!) to Havana Club Aged 7 years rum (for $30; I got it at the Veradaro airport for something like $7!).

Even better, this beauty’s theme is all about a contest called ‘Peel 2 Win’. By visiting an LCBO before February 2, depressed market watchers and serious alcoholics have a chance of winning a bunch of decent cash prizes.

This is great marketing. Booze. Cash. Great pictures that make you want to hit the liquor cabinet before 8 in the morning.

Seriously though, this organization knows what it’s doing. So much so, they’ve even laid out their strategy, rationale, programs and results here. Very forward thinking, considering, as they point out – the LCBO is a MONOPOLY. And the numbers show it’s working.

“In terms of dividend transfers to the provincial government, in fiscal 2005-2006 we delivered our 11th record dividend –

$1.2 billion. This figure, which does not include taxes, was $57 million more than the previous year and 7.6 per cent higher than the previous year. Our net sales were also a record at $3.6 billion, 4.4 per cent higher than the year before.”