The advertising by My Deal Doc for a mobile phone app entitled BoozeDoc offered consumers, on downloading the App, information on special offers available in off-licences in their locality. The following information was provided on the advertisers’ website in relation to the App:
“BoozeDoc Now Live !!
The BoozeDoc is now available and live. Every day new retailers, new locations and new special offers are being uploaded. Our goal is to give you an unparalleled directory of stores and great special offers all over the Republic of Ireland. Over the next few weeks you will notice more and more retailers as well as a daily increase in the number of special offers uploaded in real time. BoozeDoc will be a fully loaded fully tested app that can save you time and money. Download now to begin this journey with us and if you have any technical issues or feedback on the App let us know at email@example.com
At MyDealDoc we bring the best special offers in your local stores right to your smartphone. Download our first App the BoozeDoc for FREE and find out what alcohol special offers are available in your local off licence. Smart savings through your smartphone!
Top tip from the Doc – Remember to always enable location services to ensure you enjoy the full Boozedoc experience and get access to those great special offers!!!
Planning a night out or night in but not sure what off licence to go to? Our first App, the BoozeDoc, allows you to see what alcohol special offers are available in your local stores. Great special offers are available and waiting for you, the BoozeDoc will tell you where to go to get them. Going out with your friends? Staying in with a bottle of wine and a takeaway? Marking a big occasion with something special? Make sure you get the best value for your money. Available on iPhone and Android, download the BoozeDoc for FREE and find out where the best offers are. The BoozeDoc even has a map to show you where the closest stores are located. Time to make your smartphone start working for you, Just Doc It!!!!...
The leaflet advertising the App offered the following information:
“Going Out. Staying In? You need the BoozeDoc.
•We show you the best alcohol special offers in your area
•All major retailers and off-licences listed, over 1,000 locations
•Save money, save time
BoozeDoc www.my dealdoc.ie”
The leaflet also featured logos for Facebook and Twitter.
The complainants, Alcohol Action Ireland raised two issues in relation to the advertising.
They said that the leaflet had been distributed to all DIT students on their way to college and thus the advertisers were targeting the young.
They considered that in providing information on over 1,000 store locations where young people could buy cheap alcohol, the advertisers were being socially irresponsible and were also encouraging young people to drink to excess.
The advertisers said that they refuted the allegation made by Alcohol Action Ireland that they were targeting the young and being irresponsible by providing them with locations where they could purchase cheap alcohol that could result in them drinking excessively. The essence of the BoozeDoc App was, they said, to provide the user with information on all the offers that were currently available in their local stores.
Complaint 1 – Targeting the young
They said that to say that “A leaflet was handed out to all DIT students” was a generalisation by the complainants and indeed a feat that would have been impossible to achieve. They said that the leaflets had been distributed at the corner of Aungier Steet/Camden Street in Dublin City Centre, an area which was concentrated with offices as well as the DIT building. This area had been chosen as a means of targeting both students and office workers. They also considered the majority of college students to be 18+, the official legal drinking age in Ireland. If, however, a person looked under 18 or if there was any doubt involved in the leaflet distributor’s mind then they followed instructions and the leaflet was withheld from that person.
Complaint 2 – Stores providing cheap alcohol
The advertisers said that there were no special offers exclusive to BoozeDoc nor was the download of the App a requirement to obtain discounts. The information provided in relation to pricing/special offers in all stores related to the offers available to all consumers should they walk into a store at a given moment in time.
They said that the App was an information tool only that could not be used for price comparison nor could a user purchase alcohol through its use. For example a user could not use it to source the cheapest bottle of a particular beer, spirit or wine in their locality, they could only view the price list for each store. They considered the design aspect of the App to be an integral part of their objective in avoiding a “cheap drink” image and while they had requested the highest available age rating on both the Apple and Android store, the standardised age rating by both Apple and Google was 17+. That being said, however, they said that BoozeDoc was designed so that those under 18 would not have the incentive to download the Application. The Application for example did not have any interactive elements, the only resource it offered was pure information on pricing and store locations.
In conclusion, the advertisers said that they did not believe that they had targeted those under legal drinking age with their advertising. They accepted that while they offered information on prices for alcohol in over 1,000 stores, including special offers, it had to be remembered that it was the stores in question that had set the prices and the alcohol could not be purchased through their Application. They reiterated that the prices demonstrated were the prices available to all consumers and not only those using the App facility.
Information from the Department of Education and Skills website showed that in 2013 the number of enrolments for students under 18 years of age in DIT was just 1.56% of the total numbers.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted that in accordance with the provisions of Section 1.6(d) “The Code is primarily concerned with the content of advertisements, promotions and direct marketing communications and not with the terms of business or products themselves.
While the Committee accepted that the leaflet had been handed out to some students as part of the distribution, they noted that the campaign had not been exclusively targeted at college students. The Committee also noted the age profile of students as shown on the website of the Department of Education and Skills. The Committee also considered the advertisers’ statement that where there was any doubt involved in the mind of the distributor the leaflet was withheld.
The complaint was not upheld.
The Committee noted that the App itself was an information tool only and that no alcohol could be purchased through its use. They also noted that the providers of the App, while providing information in relation to alcohol prices in the user’s locality, were not responsible for setting those prices or for any special offers provided by the stores involved. The Committee also considered that those wishing to purchase alcohol sourced through use of the App would be subject to providing ID if required (like all other customers) by the outlets concerned.
The complaint was not upheld.
No further action was required in this case.