BrewDog launched the campaign this week to promote its non-alcoholic IPA – Punk AF. The ad simply reads ‘Sober as a Motherfu’ - cutting off two letters so that it doesn’t make the full swearword, but certainly alludes to it.
Just one day after it was revealed, the UK's advertising watchdog confirmed to The Drum that it has received 14 complaints challenging whether it was likely to cause serious or widespread harm.
A further ten complainants also challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for display in a medium where it could be seen by children, sparking a formal investigation.
The campaign was created by ad agency Uncommon with communication and media planning handled by Craft Media. Craft used G-Force, the direct buying arm if indy media agency Goodstuff, to execute its plans.
The ASA began the investigation shortly before claims that the brewer had plastered the expletive-hinting ad on billboards in close proximity to a primary school.
One of the few things I think was a mis-step by @uncommon_LDN. Normally love their work, but this grates. Swearing doesn't make something cool. It just makes it sweary. And when *everyone* has to see it, I'm not sure it's a great idea. — Pete Watson-Wailes (@pwatsonwailes) November 5, 2019
The Drum contacted Brewdog for comment on the ASA investiation and the advertising placement, but it was yet to respond.
Uncommon declined to comment while Goodstuff referred The Drum to Craft Media, which had yet to offer a statement at the time of writing.
The out-of-home billboards have been erected nationwide in the UK.
Uncommon began working with Brewdog back in May after the prankster brewer clashed with its former agency Manifest over the launch of the alcohol-free beer. The ex-agency claimed its idea derived from their pitch but was rejected before being run out of Uncommon.