Marc Zuckerberg ruins everything!
OK, that may be overstating the matter — depending on who you are. But even if correlation doesn’t imply causation (and it doesn’t), please note: At the same time Gawker surfaced a video of the Facebook CEO “icing” an employee — that mega-moronic frat-tivity of creatively forcing one another to kneel and chug Smirnoff Ice — a site celebrating the activity shut down, probably frozen by Smirnoff.
And ya know, when a 26-year-old self-made billionaire who changed the world is making his Director of Product Blake Ross chug a wine cooler (the same Ross who, as a teenager, co-created Firefox, the only browser to truly challenge Microsoft's Internet Explorer), maybe it's time for this fad to go away. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Anyone still thinking this latest advance in peer-pressured binge drinking — those presented with a Smirnoff Ice are forced to comply or face humiliation — may be sobered by the liquor manufacturer's official word.
"[Smirnoff Ice parent] Diageo has taken measures to stop this misuse of its Smirnoff Ice brand and marks, and to make it clear that 'icing' does not comply with our marketing code, and was not created or promoted by Diageo, Smirnoff Ice, or anyone associated with Diageo," the company said in its noncommittal statement.
Noted: The company isn't exactly saying it has no association with the site or its shuttering. But you know how college binge drinking is correlated with academic impairment, injury, assault, rape and a variety health problems (including but not limited to sudden death)? Most assuredly, the manufacturers behind Smirnoff Ice do, as well as the legalities associated thereof. This ain't "Mad Men," kids.
"I would say there is a case because of disparagement of the product and using the name in association with this game," said Annette Heller, a trademark and copyright lawyer told industry publication AdAge. "They [Bros Icing Bros] are using the trademark in a way that disparages the product, and exposing Smirnoff to liability."
Meanwhile, in video after video both pranksters and victims uniformly agree that this particular brand of alcoholic beverage sucks. If this didn't clue you in that "icing" is not a guerilla advertising ploy, the annual morning-show outrage over the 1,700 college kids who suffer drinking-related deaths each year should have been your tip-off.
If you were, until now, unaware of this zany "icing" trend, first congratulate yourself on having a life, then accept my apology.
Trend-spotting website Urlesque brought Bros Icing Bros to the spotlight with an interview with bros behind the site posted, like, a ka-trillion years ago in Internet time (May 21, 2010).
"While icing started in South Carolina at some of the frattiest schools in the union (College of Charleston, Wofford College) it has now spread nationwide. Current hot spots are New York, Texas and other Southern fraternity-dominated schools," the website's bros said of icing's origin.
The bros also presented tips like the "ice block" defense, i.e. presenting the dude who's attempting to "ice" you with a Smirnoff Ice of your own — which he or she must then drink instead of you. "To summarize, you need to go buy Smirnoff Ice just TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SMIRNOFF ICE, and we will all live in a state of constant fear for the foreseeable future," wrote Urlesque author Will Zweigart.
But does the shuttering of the official Bros Ice Bros website mean this unfortunate prank has seen its nadir, and that Ashton Kutcher will never suffer the same fate as the Firefox dude? Hard to say. The Internet is an ADHD wasteland forever seeking the latest novelties. As of this posting, mimic sites You Got Iced and Iced You are still up and running. And you know how kids are — once you tell them something's off limits, they just want to do it more. Sigh.