Claims on http://alcopal.com/, for a tablet that claimed to "Reduce Alcohol Breath", included "Be CAREFUL if you're considering DRINKING then DRIVING Going out to celebrate or just having a good time? 'Be Careful' if you're driving. Always take ALCO-PAL with you … Take the recommended dose and it could make all the difference if you're breathalyzed [sic] ALCO-PAL helps to reduce the alcohol breath you expel from your lungs. Alcopal effectively reduces and prevents the absorbtion [sic] of alcohol from the inner lining of the stomach and intestine into the systemic flow (blood stream). This helps in reducing the burden on the liver and kidneys. Please note if you are way over the recommended alcohol limit this product will not help you".
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, and incited consumers to break the law, because they believed it encouraged consumers to drink and drive.
Alcopal acknowledged the complaint in writing and then subsequently verbally informed the ASA that the ad had changed.
The ASA acknowledged Alcopal were willing to amend their advertising. We were concerned, however, that, while the ad included the text “Please note if you are way over the recommended alcohol limit this product will not help you”, its overall impression was that the product could help consumers bypass the law and that drinking and driving was therefore acceptable. We considered the text “Please note if you are way over the recommended alcohol limit this product will not help you” was likely to be interpreted as suggesting the product could help consumers who were over the legal limit for driving, provided they were not “way over”. We considered that text, combined with the other claims, encouraged consumers to drink and drive and thereby incited them to break the law. We also noted the ad suggested the effects of drinking alcohol could be masked. For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising), 1.10 1.10 Marketers have primary responsibility for ensuring that their marketing communications are legal. Marketing communications should comply with the law and should not incite anyone to break it. (Legality) and 4.6 4.6 Marketing communications must not encourage consumers to drink and drive. Marketing communications must, where relevant, include a prominent warning on the dangers of drinking and driving and must not suggest that the effects of drinking alcohol can be masked. (Harm and offence).
The ad must no longer appear. We told Alcopal to ensure their future advertising was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society. We also told them to ensure their future marketing communications did not incite anyone to break the law, did not encourage consumers to drink and drive and also did not suggest the effects of drinking alcohol could be masked.