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Stupid FTC Watch: Here is What We're Dealing With

2/19/13

By Ken Magill

Anyone who trusts the Federal Trade Commission to make rational and reasonable judgment calls concerning any aspect of online advertising should consider the following:

The FTC last week announced a settlement it reached with the makers of Four Loko in which Phusion Projects agreed to repackage the super-sweet, high-alcohol beverage in re-sealable containers and disclose on each can that: “This can has as much alcohol as 4.5 regular (12 oz. 5% alc/vol) beers.”

Are the FTC lawyers really this stupid? That disclosure isn’t a warning. It’s a selling point!

And do the idiots at the FTC really think the young people who drink this swill don’t know its effects?

The name "Four" was apparently derived from the original energy drink's four original main ingredients: alcohol, caffeine, taurine, and guarana.

The company came under fire several years ago over charges it was marketing Four Loko to underage kids and what some alarmists claimed was the danger of combining alcohol and caffeine.

Apparently everyone who has a cocktail or three with dinner and finishes with a cup of coffee is risking their life. The same apparently goes for rum-and-Coke and Irish-coffee drinkers.

In any case, Phusion Projects removed the caffeine, taurine and guarana from Four Loko in November, 2010.

But that move still wasn’t enough for the FTC.

According to the FTC’s recent settlement announcement, “Phusion Projects, LLC and its principals falsely claimed that a 23.5-ounce, 11 or 12 percent alcohol by volume can of Four Loko contains alcohol equivalent to one or two regular 12-ounce beers, and that a consumer could drink one can safely in its entirety on a single occasion.

“In fact, according to the FTC,” the FTC said in a statement, attributing the statement to itself, “one can of Four Loko contains as much alcohol as four to five 12-ounce cans of regular beer and is not safe to drink on a single occasion. Consuming a single can of Four Loko on a single occasion constitutes ‘binge drinking,’ which is defined by health officials as men drinking five (and women drinking four) or more standard alcoholic drinks in about two hours.”

For men, that’s one beer every 24 minutes.

Apparently “health official” is a synonym for finger-wagging buzz-kill wussie.

A person certainly can consume a can of Four Loko safely on a single occasion. Millions of people consume a hell of a lot more than that in the course of an evening safely all the time.

By the FTC busybodies’ logic, wine bottles should be similarly labeled.

That people who demonstrate such a stunning lack of common sense, logic and reason have any power over online advertising is deeply troubling.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: robinteractive
Date: 2013-02-20 09:59:31
Subject: Wine Bottle

Bottle of wine = interesting analogy. I suspect Napa's lobby would jump on board at that point :) As long as we're going down that path, what about a fifth of scotch?

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