Uber Hands Out Breathalyzer Cards You Can Lick to See If You’re Too Drunk to Drive

Nifty in-bar promotion from Russia

A clever campaign from Russia adds new utility to the dead-tree branding tool of the business card, by turning it into a blood alcohol test that can let bar patrons know whether they're sober enough to drive safely—or should arrange for a ride to come pick them up.

A new case study video shows that it jointly promotes car-service app Uber and drinking establishment Alibi Bar, located in the city of Yekaterinburg. The cards, fitted with saliva alcohol test strips, were given to customers at the venue. An imbiber can then peel off the testing strip, lick it and wait for the result. If it turns yellow, it's safe to climb behind the wheel. If it turns green, it's time to summon an Uber driver.

In spirit, the idea, conceived and executed by Red Pepper Creative, is simple and utilitarian—which adds to its charm, despite its limited scope and assuming the strips are accurate. (To be fair, they generally are.)

Plenty of other brands and agencies around the world have experimented with point-of-sale stunts aimed at discouraging drunk driving and other alcohol-related dangers. There was the 2012 gimmick, from insurer Allianz in Brazil, which used a bathroom mirror to delay the reflections of revelers and remind them of the risks of distorted judgment and poor reaction times. This year, a public-service campaign similarly used a trick mirror at a bar in Los Angeles to stage a conversation with prisoner serving time for vehicular manslaughter committed while drunk.

In a less direct correlation, a Japanese bar chain last year tried—clumsily—to fight alcohol-fueled domestic violence with coasters that featured images of women who appeared abused after a cold drink was placed on them.

Such efforts are often just awards bait. But if they do actually help even a few people make smarter decisions, and reduce the risk for a broader public, they have legitimate value. Then again, anyone who needs to drool on a piece of paper to see how responsibly they've been drinking should probably just take the cab anyway.


Clients: Uber, Alibi Bar

Agency: Red Pepper Creative, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Main Pepper: Danil Golovanov

Creative Director: Ivan Sosnin

Art Director: Julia Uzkih

Designer: Maria Orlova

Account: Dinara Keksina

Copywriter: Yana Shmailova

Production: Anton Smetanin, Ekaterina Donik

Music: Roma Zuckerman

Video Production: Kirill Zotov

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@GabrielBeltrone gabriel.beltrone@gmail.com Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.