BrewDog ad for hard seltzer banned for misleading health claims

The brewer said the claims in the ad were intended to be tongue in cheek.

BrewDog: Instagram ad banned for misleading health claims
BrewDog: Instagram ad banned for misleading health claims

A BrewDog ad for a hard seltzer drink has been banned for making misleading nutritional claims.

The paid-for Instagram post went live on 21 January 2021 and included an image of a can of Clean & Press Hard Seltzer, with the text: “Due to advertising regulations we cannot claim this drink is healthy."

Further below, the image stated: “Even though Clean & Press is only 90 calories per can, with no carbs or sugar and a little bit of alcohol, this is not a health drink. If you are looking for a health drink, do not drink Clean & Press."

Five complainants reported the ad to the Advertising Standards Authority, arguing the claims on the ad implied that the drink was healthy. The ASA ruled that the claims “only 90 calories per can” and “no carbs or sugar” were nutrition claims, which are not permitted for alcoholic drinks. It also ruled that the claim “a little bit of alcohol” implied that the drink was low alcohol, which would not apply to the drink, because it has an ABV of 5%.

Never one to shy from controversy, BrewDog has often generated negative headlines in the press, often around its provocative marketing. However, things recently took a darker turn when its founder and chief executive, James Watt, apologised to staff and promised to overhaul the brewer's culture amid allegations of "lies, hypocrisy and deceit".

Regarding its banned ad, a statement from the ASA said: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told BrewDog plc not to make health claims, or non-permitted nutrition claims about alcoholic drinks. We also told them not to make permitted nutrition claims for alcoholic drinks if the product did not meet the associated conditions of use for the claim.” 

BrewDog plc said the claims in the ad were intended to be tongue in cheek and the firm accepted they breached the code and agreed they would not be used in future campaigns. 

In 2021, Watt gave a more robust response to an ad ban, remarking: "The ASA can go fuck themselves." 

The ad in question was for an out-of-home execution featuring a partially obscured swear word, launched to create awareness of BrewDog's new status as a carbon negative company. It was its second ban from the ad watchdog in fewer than 12 months.