Marketing Brand Strategy ASA

BrewDog ad banned for joking its fruity beer counted towards 5-a-day


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

December 7, 2022 | 4 min read

UK ad watchdog rules that you can’t claim a can of beer is equivalent to a piece of fruit – not even in jest.


BrewDog argued that customers would be familiar with its playful marketing style

Back in July, beer company BrewDog sent a marketing email pushing its fruity beers. The subject heading was ”One of your five-a-day” and it asked viewers if they were ”Feeling Fruity” above an image of can of BrewDog’s Hazy Jane Guava.

The email joked that the beer was compared to fruit consumed as part of a healthy diet, boosted by the copy: ”Summer is well and truly here. Quench your thirst while soaking up the sun (or rain) with our fruit-laden favorites. From Pineapple Punch to our limited edition Hazy Jane Passionfruit, we’ve got all your fruit needs covered!”

The beers included Lost in Guava, Pineapple Punch and Lost in Lychee and Lime. One person flagged the comms with the watchdog, claiming the subject was misleading.

BrewDog’s defense was that people would understand that you cannot replace fruit and vegetables with beer. It emphasized that the subject line wasn’t intended to be interpreted as a factual claim. It was only sent to existing Brewdog customers, who had previously opted-in to receive marketing emails.

In this closed loop, BrewDog argued that customers would be familiar with its “playful marketing style” and tongue-in-cheek remarks. It finally argued that alcohol is often marketed in fruity terms and that consumers would be used to making the distinction.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the defense lacking. It acknowledged that some people would see the humor, but didn’t like the subversion of the well-known government health advice.

It said: ”We considered that, in general, consumers would not expect advertisers to include such claims unless the advertised product was recognized as meeting the requirements of that advice. Further, the claim appeared in the email’s subject heading, which we considered positioned it as a key element of the ad’s message.”

Where things get hazy, due to the high fruit concentration in some of the beverages it was possible ”consumers were likely to interpret the claim... to mean that the fruit-flavored beers in the ad’s body copy counted towards the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.” The claim, therefore, breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising). For BrewDog, the apple must fall far from this tree on future fruit claims.

The announcement came one week after the brand lost its B-Corp status.

Marketing Brand Strategy ASA

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