M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Jack Daniel, Internet Cop

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Part of my job requires me to review potentially interesting stories NBC’s local stations are reporting. Today, many of them picked up a short AP piece on Jack Daniel’s announcing a new, slimmer bottle for its famous Old No. 7 whiskey.

Fine, I thought. I’ll see if I can find the actual announcement on Jack Daniel’s site.

I didn’t get that far.

Like nearly all liquor companies, Jack Daniel makes you verify your age before you can get past a splash screen. That’s fine; liquor companies would want to protect themselves from complications associated with appearing to market to minors.

But Jack Daniel goes much further than that. It has a link to something called a “linking policy” on its home page, and it’s pretty amazing.

Basically, Jack Daniel says that if you want to link to its site, you have to agree to 15 conditions — among them: “You will not challenge the validity of this Agreement or its binding effect or enforceability” and “You agree not to use the link on any web site that disparages the Brand, the Site, or the Brand’s products or services.” And you must fill out a form disclosing your name, residence and e-mail address.

To link to it. And even then, you can link only to the home page, it says.

I can understand Jack Daniel’s wanting to make sure you’re of age if you visit. But its “linking policy” is comically overbearing and just makes you think the brand is tragically out of touch.

Some of Jack Daniel’s sister brands under the umbrella of Brown-Forman Corp., like Finlandia and Canadian Mist, trumpet the same “policy.” But brands from rival companies — Johnnie Walker, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Evan Williams and Wild Turkey, for example — don’t, as far as I could tell.

Obviously, I don’t think Jack Daniel’s “policy” has any binding effect, but just to humor it, I’ll refrain from “hyperlinking,” to use 1995-era terminology its executives might be more comfortable with. Instead, I’ll simply tell you that you can find it at jackdaniels dot com slash linkingpolicy dot aspx.

Johnnie Walker, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Evan Williams and Wild Turkey just got an infinitesimal bump in their Google page ranks, because I linked to them. Jack Daniel didn’t.

But if that’s the way Jack likes it …

Written by Alex

May 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm

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