Snorting Powdered Alcohol & Using Tone Responsibly

Online media blew up on Monday after it was announced that “Palcohol,” a new powdered alcohol product, was approved for sale by the federal government. (The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau now says that the approval was issued in error.)

Whether Palcohol lands on your local shelves or not, the controversial powder offers a fascinating lesson in website content and the importance of appropriate tone.

Check out how Palcohol’s website copy recently changed, as noted by news outlets:

Then: “We have found adding Palcohol to food is so much fun. … Some of our favorites are the Kamikaze in guacamole, Rum on a BBQ sandwich, Cosmo on a salad and Vodka on eggs in the morning to start your day off right. Experiment.”

Now: “Can Palcohol be added to food? I suppose so. … As Palcohol is a new product, we have yet to explore its potential of being added to food.”

Then: “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room….snorting Palcohol. Yes, you can snort it. And you’ll get drunk almost instantly … Good idea? No. It will mess you up.”

Now: “Can I snort it? We have seen comments about goofballs wanting to snort it. Don’t do it!”

Please Write Responsibly

At MarketSmiths, we love web copy with a kick: a playful attitude, a punchy line, a wink to the reader.

But everything in moderation.

I believe Palcohol played a little too fast and loose by saying that yes, you can snort it (and it’ll get you hammered); anything less than a full-throated “don’t do it!” exposes them to legal risk and makes their brand look sketchy.

The takeaway: spunky web copy is an awesome asset to entice readers, but everything has its limit. A strong voice is powerful weapon that can cut both ways. So please, use tone responsibly.

A winsome wordsmith, Gregory M. Lewis loves nothing better than absorbing new information and crystallizing it into clear, captivating copy. Greg brings his incisive insight and easy-going approach to every project. In his free time, the Chicago native can be spotted at Nets games, art galleries, and local concerts in Brooklyn.

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