Attorneys General Take Shots At Bud.TV's Age Verification Procedures

from the kids-might-get-influenced dept

Budweiser's efforts at creating its own broadband video channel, Bud.TV, have been hailed as a good example of how a brand can promote itself at a time when it's hard to reach consumers using traditional media. But, the company is already finding itself in hot water (via Broadband Reports), as the attorneys general from 21 states have criticized the company for not doing enough to prevent underage viewers from accessing the site. What's funny is that up until this point, the company has been criticized for doing too much to prevent people under 21 from accessing the site, to the point that it's deterring viewers who are of legal age. Already, Bud.TV asks users for their name, birthday and zip code, which it then matches against a database to verify a user's age. Apparently, the AGs would like Bud.TV to do things like follow-up phone calls to viewers in an effort to better verify that they are who say they are, which is a rather burdensome demand.

At first glance, some might dismiss the AGs' heavy-handed approach as an isolated problem because Budweiser sells a controlled substance, which brings up issues that don't apply to most companies. But, the more you look into the AGs' complaint, the more worrisome it actually is. They're concerned, among other things, about the ability for a viewer to email content to someone else, which they see as a way to circumvent the age restrictions. Of course, being able to share content is one of the key features of many new media ventures. Will they make the same complaint when some company offers R-rated content and allows users to email their friends, who might not be 17, about it? More broadly, the concern of the AGs is heightened because the venture represents "unknown and unmeasured" territory. Essentially, what it boils down to is that Budweiser is being targeted for doing something new. If it were to run the same content on regular TV, nobody would be clamoring for safeguards to ensure that young people can't see it. The company wouldn't be expected to make calls to viewers to verify their age. But because it's breaking new ground -- and because it's easy to vilify the dangers lurking on the internet -- it's being held to an absurdly high standard.
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  • identicon
    haha, 20 Feb 2007 @ 2:33pm

    FOLLOW-UP phone calls? Because the site revolves around beer, even though the viewer isn't drinking beer by viewing the site, they must make follow up calls? Back when i was underage, I never got harassed for watching a commercial on television for a beer company. And even though I watch some gory movies from time to time, that doesn't give the police the right to arrest me because i'm killing people...
    Why should Budweiser be forced to make follow up calls if people accessing bud.tv are just viewing content?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    discojohnson, 20 Feb 2007 @ 2:38pm

    because...

    ...wait for it... wait for it...

    to protect the children

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris, 20 Feb 2007 @ 2:49pm

    w t f

    Last time I checked there wasn't bouncer at every grocery store in America forbidding anyone under the age of 21 to walk past the liquor isles. The only difference between that venue and this venue is you can observe (key word here) alcoholic related content from the convenience of your own home. Is Budweiser going to have to paint all their trucks a neutral color as well? Just what exactly are they trying to restrict minors from seeing? Do they have naked woman pouring beer on each other to help up sales? I think not, and until there's a justifiable reason to restrict anyone of any age from going to bud.tv I cant see this as anything but just plain idiotic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      xanius, 20 Feb 2007 @ 3:37pm

      Re: w t f

      Do they have naked woman pouring beer on each other to help up sales?

      You should contact budweiser about a new marketing campaign and see if you can cash in on that idea.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Delroy Nitz, 20 Feb 2007 @ 3:00pm

    Didn't work for me

    I tried briefly on the weekend to get into the bud.tv site and couldn't pass the age verification test. I am 30 but I guess I'm not in whatever database they are seaching.
    It's totally not worth any more of my time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    media assassin, 20 Feb 2007 @ 3:04pm

    age verification

    I work in online advertising for a beer client and can confirm that beer advertisers are held to strict standards on the internet. To be "Beer Institute Complaint," any ads placed online (or on any medium for that matter) advertisers have to guarantee that at least 70% of the audience is 21+ (there have been rumbling of this changing to 85%). Beer advertisers' websites must have an "age verificaion" page that screens visitors. Believe it or not, adding this simple step can result in as much as an 80% dropoff in visitors to the actual site.

    If a beer advertiser has a presence on a website that is not "compliant," or does not properly screen visitors to their own sites, they can face serious legal action from the BIC during the monthly auditing process. It's a pain, but its the law, and it's for a good reason.

    When I tried to register for BudTV, I was asked for my name, phone number, email and postal address as well as my drivers liscense number. I'm baterly willing to provide a third of that info, so BudTV can count me out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob, 20 Feb 2007 @ 3:13pm

    This has got to be a joke

    Surely, I can buy pornography, and simply give it to somebody under age......
    Where is the follow up call on the razorz for my mach 3 turbo?
    Who is going to check that kids have gone to bed early enough and are not watching TV....
    These are all the same issues we have never been able to fix, the AG's have identified no new problem.
    If you are an AG and reading this, be ashamed at your utter stupidity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2007 @ 3:40pm

    "it's" love the grammer police

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    moo, 20 Feb 2007 @ 3:57pm

    cant anyone go to youtube and type

    drunk girl


    and see alcohol?


    ooh alcohol!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Angry Rivethead, 20 Feb 2007 @ 4:03pm

    Bud

    Is sucky beer. This country is now inundated with microbreweries, Ive got to be able to name 15 or 20 individual within a 50 mile radius of me. Why would anyone want Bud's yeast flavored soda water when theres an ungodly number of better beers out there? I am also pushin' 30. As far as I'm concerned, their theme parks are the only thing they ever get my money for. I miss their AB logo pretzels though. I think a cool website is a great idea for them, anything that keeps them from ruining the greant name of beer is a good thing. As for the age thing...WTF does it matter what age viewers are unless they developed some kind of teleportational Java applet that allows alcoholic beverages to be dispensed from your USB port....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Coline, 20 Feb 2007 @ 4:19pm

    Site didn't work very well

    I tried to register but the stupid second window won't open enough so that I can finish filling out the form. Anyways Bud sucks. I was just hoping to get some coupons for my husband, he drinks that p--- water.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Coline, 20 Feb 2007 @ 4:27pm

    Dumb website

    Lame POS. Was able to register directly at budtv.com and then the site locks up at 93% loaded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yup, 20 Feb 2007 @ 5:46pm

    Checks against database my ass

    I just signed up with random characters for first, last name 01/01/1901 as birth year and 90210 as zip code

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ShadowSoldier, 22 Feb 2007 @ 5:44am

    What next?

    Is the AG going to arrest parents for drinking alcohol in front of their children, even if say they are 18,19,20. The entire 21 drinking age is silly and pointless, but making a company waste millions of dollars to "call back" people who try and register for their site, at that point they'd have to charge you to go through the process of registering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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