A paid post from BrewDog on Instagram posted Jan. 21, 2021 contained a picture of a can of Clean & Press Hard Seltzer and the text “Due to advertising regulations, we cannot claim this drink is healthy.”
The text below the picture read: “Although Clean & Press only contains 90 calories per can, with no carbohydrates or sugar and a little alcohol, this is not a health drink. If you are looking for a health drink, don’t drink Clean & Press. “
But the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said claims of only 90 calories per can and no carbohydrates or sugars are equated with nutritional claims that are not allowed on alcoholic beverages.
And it also confirmed complaints that the winking slogan implied that the drink was actually healthy.
“90 calories” vs “only 90 calories”
The CAP code for advertising alcoholic beverages allows alcoholic beverages to make factual admissions about products such as calorie content – such as “90 calories per can”.
“However, we believed that by prefixing this statement with the word ‘just’, the ad indicated that the drink had the special nutritional property of being low in calories (ie high in energy),” the ASA said. “The claim” only “90 calories per can” was therefore a nutrition-related claim that corresponds to a “low calorie / low energy” nutrition claim.
“However, it was not allowed to make a ‘low-calorie / energetic’ claim with regard to alcohol. Since the claims “only 90 calories per can” and “no carbohydrates or sugar” were nutrition claims that were not allowed for alcoholic beverages, we came to the conclusion that the ad violated the code. “
Another British alcohol brand was also violated against the ASA this week for making a nutrition claim on an alcoholic beverage: again because of the emphasis on the descriptor “under” in the text “Under 100 calories per can”.
Long Ashton Holdings Ltd. t / a High Water will change the notice on its Hard Seltzer website to “Range 93 to 99 calories per can”.
Regarding the text – “Due to advertising regulations, we cannot claim that this drink is healthy” – the ASA noted that the message was tongue-in-cheek. But it was said the final implication was that the drink was actually healthy.
“We felt that from the ad, consumers would understand that the advertiser wanted to convey that the product was indeed healthy, but that they were not allowed to inform consumers about it. We were of the opinion that the ad therefore implied that the drink was beneficial for general health or health-related wellbeing.
“Since such health claims were not allowed for alcoholic beverages, we came to the conclusion that the advertisement violated the code.”
5% ABV is not low in alcohol
While the hard seltzer with 5% vol. did not describe it as “low alcohol”, the ASA opposed the phrase “a little alcohol” used in its advertising.
“We believed that the claim is likely to be understood by consumers to mean that the product is low in alcohol. According to the Code, claims about low alcohol content are permitted for alcoholic beverages. However, the UK Food Information Regulations (2014) state that the term “low alcohol” (and any other word or description that implies that the drink was low in alcohol) does not apply to drinks with an alcohol content greater than 1.2 % should be applied. “
Problematic text is no longer used
Brewdog plc replied to the ASA that while the allegations in the ad were ironic, they accepted that they were violating the Code and agreed not to use them in future campaigns.