A major U.S. alcohol supplier has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its advertising for the caffeinated alcohol drink Wide Eye was deceptive, unsubstantiated, and in violation of federal law. The proposed settlement bars Constellation Brands, Inc. – which claimed in its ads that consumers who drink Wide Eye will remain alert when consuming alcohol – from making the deceptive claims.
“Constellation Brands fueled the misperception that mixing alcohol and caffeine helps people stay alert,” said Eileen Harrington, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The truth is that alcohol and caffeine could be a dangerous mix, and a claim like that can have very serious consequences.”
Constellation Brands has promoted Wide Eye in Web videos and other Internet advertising, as well as in print ads. According to the FTC’s complaint, there is no credible scientific evidence to support the claim that consumers who drink Wide Eye will remain alert.
Constellation Brands agrees under the proposed settlement not to make the following claims in advertising and marketing unless they are truthful and substantiated: that consumers will remain alert when they drink Wide Eye or any beverage containing alcohol and caffeine or other stimulants; and that any alcohol product, or ingredient in such a product, will counteract the effects of consuming alcohol. The settlement contains standard record-keeping provisions to allow the agency to monitor compliance.
The Commission vote to approve the administrative complaint and proposed consent agreement was 4-0. The FTC will publish an announcement regarding the agreement in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through July 10, 2009, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. To file a public comment, please click on the following hyperlink: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/06/0923035publiccomment.pdf and follow the instructions at that site.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $16,000.
Copies of the complaint, the proposed consent agreement, and an analysis of the agreement to aid in public comment are available from both the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.