The alcohol industry is regulated heavily by the Federal Government as to exactly how and where it can advertise, and that includes online. As such, I was particularly interested to see Ciroq Vodka, the brand produced by Sean "Puff Daddy" Comb's Bad Boy Entertainment and Diageo, expand its online advertising efforts to include the use of shareable widgets.
Interpolls created the widgets which are similar to those developed for its other clients including Scion and Ford, but the Ciroq widgets have an extra feature -- an age verification requirement. To see the widget's content, which includes a video featuring Combs and recipes for drinks made with the vodka, viewers much enter their birth year. As widgets are intended to be "grab-able" and placed on a users Web site or social network site, it occurs to me that it's only a matter of time until a minor somewhere is extolling Comb's vodka to friends via his Facebook page, but the widget will require age verification before each viewing, according to Kwasi Asare, new media marketing manager for Bad Boy Entertainment.
"It's the same as any other age verification online," he told me. "The tough part of working through these new technologies is how does this fit into existing legal framework? There's not a lot of precedent for these kinds of things."
Bad Boy Entertainment is placing the widget initially on sites that require age verification to help weed out minors, he said, and it also distributed it last Sunday on AOL for a one day run. Based on what kind of response it sees the company may or may not continue to use the widget, but the unusual nature of the technology appeals to the company, Asare said.
"Puff has established his career to doing new things that have never been done before," he said. "It's important for us to be cutting edge not just from a product standpoint but from a technology standpoint as well."
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