Phusion Products, LLC agrees to sweeping restrictions on marketing its flavored malt beverages; will monitor social media and cease promoting irresponsible use of alcohol
SAN FRANCISCO (March 25, 2014)—City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced that in a groundbreaking agreement with his office and 19 state attorneys general, the maker of the flavored alcoholic beverage Four Loko has agreed to sweeping limitations on the marketing of its beverages. Major provisions of the agreement include not promoting the drinks on college campuses, avoiding depictions of underage drinkers in their advertising, and ending marketing practices that promote rapid or excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
The agreement, an “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance and Voluntary Discontinuance,” resolves investigations by all of the signatory jurisdictions against Phusion Products, LLC, the Chicago-based manufacturer of the entire Four Loko line.
“This is an important step toward ending the irresponsible marketing of alcohol to young people,” Herrera. “I’m grateful that we were able to get this industry leader on the same page with consumer protection offices in San Francisco and 19 states. The result will be better informed consumers and a safer, healthier marketplace.”
Four Loko products previously contained added caffeine, but Phusion halted production of such products in 2010. In today’s agreement, Phusion also agreed not to manufacture caffeinated alcoholic beverages in the future.
One innovative clause in the agreement obliges Phusion to monitor its social media pages to crack down on and delete posts showing irresponsible behavior. Prior entries from users on Four Loko social media sites include “My baby boy is a result of my drunken Four binge of wonder,” and, in response to the question “What Loko Starts the Perfect Saturday Night?” the answer “The one in the 17 year olds hands [sic].”
Other practices the company has agreed to cease are depicting Santa Claus in its advertisements, depicting anyone driving a motor vehicle while drinking alcohol, and depicting the consumption of their products by persons exhibiting clear signs of intoxication.
The settlement also includes a $400,000 payment by Phusion. Apart from the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, states participating in the agreement are Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.
PDF of the signed Assurance of Voluntary Compliance and Voluntary Discontinuance (March 25, 2014)