David Meerman Scott, who has written a lot of good material on Web 2.0 marketing and PR, had and interesting post called When lawyers get in the way of PR. A poor approach that some winery websites take is probably also driven by lawyers.
I have written before here and here about why I don't think splash pages are a good idea, both in general and for wineries in particular. The practice that I am referring to here is the use of a splash screen that makes the visitor testify as to their age.
For example, some simply ask you to verify that you're at least 21.
These are no worse than generic "Enter" splash screens.
The really intrusive versions actually require you to enter in your date of birth!
That's expecting a lot from a casual visitor. I wonder how many people simply change the year to be at least 21 years ago?
Now, as far as I know, the only legal requirement for verifying age comes when a website visitor wants to buy wine. There is no such requirement for simply visiting the site!
So, why do they do it? One clue may be that the only sites that I have come across that do this belong to wineries that are owned by large corporations. My suspicion is that corporate lawyers have overridden marketing sensibility (and even common sense) and have taken a "belt and suspenders" approach. "Make everyone swear to their age. That way we never have any responsibility".
What do you think?
Note: This was a post I originally wrote for the Vintagefactor blog and moved here.