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An ad for beleaguered Scottish beermaker BrewDog has been banned by the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) for claiming the brewer‘s hard seltzer line was ‘healthy‘.

Why has BrewDog’s ad been banned?

  • The ad, which appeared in a paid-for Instragram post in January, read ’Due to advertising regulations we cannot claim this drink is healthy,’ above text which claimed: ’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.’

  • The watchdog took issue with the implication that an alcoholic drink held health benefits, since it suggested the product was a low-sugar and low-carbohydrate alternative. The ASA also said the phrase ’a little bit of alcohol’ misrepresented the product, which has 5% ABV – higher than some BrewDog ales.

  • According to the CAP Code, which binds British advertisers, the only permitted nutrition claims that can be made about alcoholic drinks are ’low-alcohol’, ’reduced alcohol’ and ’reduced energy’.

  • The ASA has banned the ad in its current form and told BrewDog not to make health claims about their products in the future.

  • Geraint Lloyd-Taylor, partner at law firm Lewis Silkin, explained: “It’s important when promoting any kind of food or drink that brands do not fall foul of the rules around nutrition claims. When promoting alcoholic drinks, it’s even more important to ensure the claims do not mislead consumers.“

What does this mean for BrewDog?

  • The Aberdeenshire craft beer brand conceded that it had breached advertising rules and would not run the ad again.

  • While the company was heading for an IPO earlier this year, the brand was rocked last month by allegations that its founders fostered ’a culture of fear’ and cut corners on health and safety at its facilities.

  • In addition, a customer who won a ’solid gold’ can of beer from the brand in a prize draw discovered their trophy – ostensibly worth £15,000 – was, in fact, primarily brass.

  • Lloyd-Taylor said: “BrewDog is one of those companies that periodically gets into trouble with the ASA, but they usually come away unscathed. BrewDog simply shrugs off upheld ASA rulings against those ads, and no doubt benefits from the additional publicity, which enhances their ‘edgy’ brand image.

  • “However, even ‘edgy’ challenger brands don’t want to be found to have misled consumers. That is harder to shrug off. They might frame this latest upheld ruling as a technicality or they might frame the underlying rules as some kind of historical EU anachronism, but these rules are designed to protect consumers and they probably aren’t going anywhere in the near future.

  • “With this latest ruling, the ASA has scratched the surface of BrewDog’s claims of nutritional benefits, and found that they, too, are not as solid as they claimed.”

Additional reporting by John McCarthy.