Move over "curiously strong" Altoids, A Brooklyn, New York-based division of a Swiss company named RNY Group recently introduced a new breath mint it says will eliminate bad breath odors caused by alcohol, smoking and food.
The super-strong bad breath-elimination mint is made in Switzerland and in being sold under the interesting name of "AntiPoleez" (yes, as in police). The product's package features a picture of an attractive blonde-haired woman in a police uniform, tipping the brim of her policewoman's cap, with the name of the brand, "AnitiPoleez" right below. To the immediate right of the brand name is the subheading "Eliminates alcohol and tobacco breath."
Although the booze-breath-busting mints were only recently introduced, and are currently being sold primarily online through the company's website and in a few bars, restaurants, convenience and grocery stores in the East Coast and a few other parts of the U.S., critics of the product are starting to emerge.
These critics are saying the product's name and how it's being marketed (see our description of the package above) could lead consumers to believe they can drink, take the mints, and then pass a roadside alcohol breath test if stopped by a police officer for suspected driving while intoxicated.
The critics also say the product and its marketing positioning might promote alcohol abuse and smoking, especially among underage kids who when they discover the booze and tobacco breath-busting mints could feel its the solution to covering-up such behaviors as drinking and smoking from parents.
RNY Group, the marketers of "AntiPoleez," say the above concerns don't reflect the intention of the company or its marketing positioning for the new super-strong breath mint line, despite the product name and picture of the sexy policewoman on the package.
On its "AntiPoleez" website--which offers a brief background about the product and merchandises a number of different packaging options for the super-strong breath mints, including the 48-serving "Fiesta Pack" ($14.99) and the even larger 96-serving "Frat Pack" ($28.99)--the company has a constantly moving banner which reads: "Don't Drink and Drive," as a disclaimer.
The website's home page also has two boxes containing text, one which explains how the super-strong breath mints work, and the other explaining what the booze and cigarette breath-busting product is for. There is no direct mention on the website about using the mints to mask alcohol breath while driving.
The corporate story is that the president of Switzerland-based RNY Group needed a solution to a personal breath problem. That problem is he likes to drink alcohol. However, his girlfriend is totally against it. Therefore, he created the super-strong breath mints as the solution, allowing him to enjoy his drinks but mask the odor when he's around her. There's no mention about whether or not the scheme worked.
The "AntiPoleeze" brand mints contain a mixture of various sweeteners and ammonium chloride, which is perhaps the product's secret alcohol and tobacco breath-busting ingredient.
the company claims (and offers to give consumers their money back if they disagree) the super-strong breath mints don't just mask food, tobacco and alcohol breath odors, but eliminate them, based on the combination of ingredients contained in the breath mints.
The company's marketing message with the breath mints is clear: They will "eliminate" the smell of alcohol on a person's breath. The elimination of cigarette and food odors is secondary.
Further, the picture of the attractive blond dressed in a police uniform on the package--along with the name of the product itself--sends a clear message as to what the primary use of "AntiPoleeze" breath mints is: to eliminate that boozy-breath smell in general and also so the cops won't smell it on you if you get stopped.
As far as we know, and we did ask a lawyer friend, the company is doing nothing illegal in its marketing of the product. Unethical? Perhaps? Dangerous? Maybe? We leave that up to our readers to decide for yourselves. We do however believe from a marketing standpoint the company is dancing dangerously on the edge in terms of the breath mints positioning.
The name of the breath mints largest packaging offering, the "Frat Pack," also sends a clear signal to college students that they're part of the target market. Although we always thought having a slight alcohol-tainted breath was somewhat of a rite of passage for college students. By the way, we've heard the super-strong mints are beginning to gain a consumer base among students at a number of New York City colleges and Universities.
Even though "AntiPoleeze" currently has only limited distribution--something the company is trying to change by searching for distributors who will gain distribution in more convenience stores, supermarkets, drug stores and other retail venues--we think the controversy over the product and its marketing positioning also is just getting started.
We anticipate perhaps you will soon be hearing from the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving on the use of the mints to mask alcohol breath and driving issue, police departments and associations, conservative political groups and others, once the product starts to gain increased publicity and awareness.
Of course, the fact is consumers can always use a better breath mint in general. It's not just alcohol and tobacco breath that's a problem, is it? If the "AntiPoleeze" breath mints work as good as the makers and marketers say, they might just be missing a far bigger market, which are the hundreds of millions of Americans and others across the globe who just want to eliminate bad breath in general, and have yet to find a breath mint on the market that does so to the degree they desire.
Think about it. In marketing, sometimes positioning a product as too niche-oriented can lead to less rather than more sales. In the case of bad breath--and solutions to the problem--consumers from all social, economic and ethnic groups see it as a problem and spend lots of money every year trying to solve it.
In other words, consumers in mass are constantly looking for "the next new thing" in bad breath solutions. If "AntiPoleez" is that better solution, we think the marketer might want to consider broadening its market positioning for the product.
After all, when was the last time you heard anybody say they felt their breath was perfect?