Could Four Loko's New Labels Actually Make the Drink More Appealing?

four lokoFederal regulators have been cracking down on the makers of Four Loko (Phusion Projects) ever since the notorious sweet alcoholic beverage has been allegedly linked to the deaths of teens in several states.

Phusion removed the caffeine from the drinks last year. Now, the beverage company has reached a settlement with the government and agreed to take another step that -- allegedly -- will better protect consumers from the harmful effects of the drink.

But it seems like this "punishment" may actually help -- not hurt -- the makers of Four Loko in the end.


The government alleged that Phusion misled customers about the amount of alcohol in the beverage not only by urging merchants to stock the very large cans with other single-serve alcoholic beverages, but also by marketing these cans as being safe to drink all at once. Phusion disagrees with these allegations. According to the terms of the new settlement, Phusion will start selling Four Loko in resealable containers, as well as disclose on its labels that the drink contains as much alcohol as four to five cans of beer.

The obvious intention behind the new containers and warning label is to make Phusion's marketing practices more transparent and to alert consumers -- particularly inexperienced drinkers -- of the potential dangers in consuming the entire product in one sitting. The only problem? The explicit warning label will likely make this beverage more attractive to the very people it is trying to protect!

Consider this: The sickly sweet taste and colorful packaging of Four Loko is particularly attractive to minors. As Michael Scippa, a spokesman for an alcohol industry watchdog group, explained:

These are not products that most adults are attracted to ... They are a gateway product to move young people from juice and soda pop to alcohol.

Inexperienced drinkers who are hell-bent on getting a quick buzz are likely to choose the product that will get them messed up the fastest. With this new warning label stipulating the high alcohol content, that choice has become even more clear. Essentially, the makers of Four Loko aren't exactly being punished for making a product that has proven harmful to teens and other inexperienced and/or irresponsible drinkers. In fact, when it comes right down to it, it may even work in their favor.


Image via Rolling Okie/Flickr

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