In the Doghouse

Pernod Ricard's New App: "Drinking is Smart!"

August 6, 2014

Pernod Drinking App
Pernod Ricard's mobile alcohol consumption app promotes excessive alcohol consumption and gives a false impression that drinking alcohol is a smart and healthy choice.

Pernod Ricard has released a new alcohol consumption calculator app that tracks users' alcohol consumption, ostensibly helping users avoid excessive consumption. What the app actually does is encourage users to drink, promoting messages that drinking is "smart," "wise," and a healthy choice.

The app also uses geolocation to encourage users to drink as much as possible within the local law, and find local transportation when they've consumed more than the legal limit (although the app does not measure blood alcohol level, creating the potential for drunk drivers to assume they are OK to drive). In addition, the app recommends daily alcohol consumption of 1.4 standard drinks for women (9.8 drinks per week) and 2.1 for men (15 drinks per week) -  levels the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers heavy drinking - and gives the impression that consuming alcohol every day is healthy and normal. Promoting drinking culture is what the app is all about.

Pernod Drinking App
Pernod Ricard's mobile alcohol consumption app calculates consumption in 10-gram units, less than one standard drink (14 grams), encouraging users to drink heavily and believe that they are drinking moderately.

If the app were to actually help users avoid alcohol-related harm, here are a few messages it would share:

  • Moderate alcohol consumption significantly increases the risk of stomach, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colorectum, liver, and female breast cancers.
  • There is no safe level of alcohol consumption before driving.
  • Moderate drinking limits of no more than 1 per day for women, 2 for men, are intended as a guideline for any single day, not cumulative over a period of time, as the app represents. Consuming alcohol every day is not moderate consumption.
  • Moderate alcohol intake also is associated with increased risk of violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.

As Pernod Ricard is likely well aware, its products are already listed in the top 10 brands consumed by underage youth (Absolut) and those disproportionately consumed by youth (Malibu). There is nothing but a useless agegate between underage youth and the app's "download" button. Then users can create a user profile and enter any date they please that represents them as 21 or older.

Which brings us to Pernod's laughable, and lamentable, disclaimer for app downloaders. Pernod's disclaimer reminds users that the app is perfectly useless in actually determining blood alcohol level or a "safe" level of alcohol consumption, and that Pernod is "not responsible whatsoever for any damages resulting from the use of the app or any decisions made by the user."

So you might wonder, where exactly is this "responsibility" of which Pernod Ricard is so proud, since this app was released to coincide with its 4th annual Responsib’All Day as a call to action involving Pernod brands? That's right, responsibility = marketing ploy. Let the drinker/buyer/user beware.