Drinking, FDA, FTC

Four Loko Settles With FTC — Will Improve ‘Warning’ That Product Will Get You Drunk

Welcome back to Above the Four Loko. In today’s episode, we find that the drink that used to combine alcohol and caffeine in really obvious ways has settled a false advertising suit with the Federal Trade Commission.

As we’ve discussed often with Four Loko, the alcoholic kick IS the appeal of the product. This drink is not getting by on its taste.

But it appears that regulators can’t grasp this simple point. So, as part of the settlement, Four Loko is being forced to make it more obvious just how potent their drink is.

Uhh… okay….

The Washington Post reports that Four Loko will be relabeling its cans:

The maker of a sweet alcoholic drink called Four Loko will start disclosing on its labels that its supersize cans contain as much alcohol as four to five cans of beer, federal regulators announced Monday.

Phusion Projects agreed to relabel its Four Loko beverages under pressure from the Federal Trade Commission, which has confronted the company more than once about its advertising practices. The Chicago-based company did not admit any wrongdoing, but in a statement it said it will relabel its malt drinks to better inform consumers.

Can you imagine the conversation between Phusion marketers and the FTC?

FTC: We need you to relabel your cans.
PHUSION: Come on, it’s not our fault kids are attracted to bright…
FTC: You need to say that the product is stronger.
PHUSION: … what? Excuse me, what did you just say?
FTC: Stronger. You need people to understand that this drink has way, WAY more alcohol in it than most anything they can buy in the store.
PHUSION: Umm… yes. Of COURSE. I mean, absolutely. We NEED to tell people that Four Loko is STRONGER than they possibly imagined!

Four Loko has risen to prominence because of it’s potency. Well, because of that and the fact that people who drink it happen to be incredibly stupid:

Johnny “Bo” Rupp of Centreville drank the caffeinated Four Loko before attending a concert with friends at Jiffy Lube Live, according to a lawsuit filed by the family against Phusion. At the concert, the event staff noticed that Rupp was behaving strangely and called his parents to retrieve him. Rupp became “increasingly paranoid and disoriented” during the drive home with his mother, the lawsuit said. The teenager jumped out of the car when his mother pulled onto the driveway and fled into the darkness. He wandered onto a busy street, where he was struck by a car. Rupp died a day later.

Yeah, ’cause really that guy was going to be saved by a different label.

In any event, yeah, Four Loko, now strong enough to make you run away from your mom.

Four Loko to relabel cans to show alcohol content [Washington Post]
Four Loko Settles FTC Complaint by Changing Can Disclosures, Using Resealable Containers [ABA Journal]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Four Loko

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