A promotion by Cox's Restaurant and Bar in Castlebar, has been found to be in breach of the MEAS Code of Practice on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks because it could encourage 'illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as binge-drinking, drunkenness or drink-driving'.
A member of the public complained that the drinks promotion by Cox's Restaurant and Bar encouraged illegal or irresponsible drinking.
The advertisement appeared on Cox's Restaurant and Bar Facebook page and stated: "Remember what REAL VALUE was? We've got it at Cox's! Get any 3 Pints for €10 or any 3 Bottles* for €10
*Offer applies to Budweiser, Corona, Bulmers Long Neck, WKD, Breezer, Ice & West Coast Cooler."
The independent Complaints Panel noted that the MEAS guidance notes on point of sale promotions and materials and serving of multiple drinks state that promotions 'identified and agreed to be those that should not be run as they are either unlawful, or entail a disproportionate risk that they will lead directly to alcohol misuse and anti-social behaviour' include 'promotions that encourage or reward the purchase or drinking of large quantities of alcohol in a single session"...[and] "promotions that encourage 'round buying'.
The panel reviewed a copy of the advertisement and noted that the promotion encouraged customers to buy three pints (the equivalent of six standard drinks) for immediate consumption on the premises for a single payment of €10.
The panel reviewed the correspondence from a representative of Cox's Restaurant & Bar which stated: "The offer of three drinks for a price is designed to add value to the occasion of a couple or pair of friends who are having a social drink.
"We did not limit this offer to a specific time frame and indeed extended it over two days with the intention of rolling it out over the full weeks duration. We believe this promotion could not be considered excessive or irresponsible on our behalf and should be deemed moderate and does not encourage the consumption of large quantities of alcohol in a single session.
"However, we are going to cease the promotion from this date on as we don't want to engage in any activity that might be deemed to be controversial."
The panel considered the promotion in light of the provisions in the MEAS Guidance Notes.
"It noted that an individual patron was required to buy three pints in order to avail of the reduced price promotion, that the promotion was offered by an on-trade premises (a premises which required the consumption of the alcohol purchased to occur on the premises) and that a minimum quantity of three pints had to be purchased by an individual consumer wishing to avail of the promotion.
The panel concluded that the promotion by Cox's Restaurant & Bar fell into the category of 'promotions that entailed a disproportionate risk that they will lead directly to alcohol misuse' and therefore was in breach of the MEAS Code.
The chief Executive of MEAS, Ms. Fionnuala Sheehan said: "I would like to thank those who bring irresponsible practices in the marketing and sale of alcohol to our attention. All complaints are dealt with in the strictest confidence and are treated seriously."
Ms Sheehan also invited licensees to use the MEAS Code Advisory Service prior to undertaking a drinks promotion to avoid the costs and embarrassment associated with a code breach.