Cheeky Scottish brewer Brewdog (which B&T notes is making significant strides here in Australia) is again in strife with regulators for suggesting its fruit-infused brews come with health benefits.
In a recent email campaign to customers, the brewer said its fruit-flavoured beers counted as “one of your five-a-day”. The beers included Lost In Guava, Pineapple Punch and Lost In Lychee & Lime.
The claim is based on government and health professional recommendations that people eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day to improve their health. Obviously, drinking alcohol is not one of the recommendations.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that many consumers would not have known that for sure when BrewDog sent them a marketing email in July with the five-a-day claim in the subject line and has banned the brewer from repeating the claim.
In its defence, BrewDog – who have a reputation for humorous and controversial marketing – argued that the email was only sent to existing customers who had opted in to its email alerts and would have been aware of its playful marketing style.
A BrewDog spokesman said: “We respect the Advertising Standards Authority’s decision and are happy to confirm that beer is not a fruit or a vegetable. We hope that sorts it out.”
In its determination, ASA said that it “acknowledged that the subject heading ‘one of your five a day’ might be interpreted by some consumers as a humorous nod to the fruit-flavoured beers featured in the body of the email.
“However, because the claim referred to well-known government advice on health and wellbeing, we considered that, in general, consumers would not expect advertisers to include such claims unless the advertised product was recognised as meeting the requirements of that advice.
“We therefore considered consumers were likely to interpret the claim ‘one of your five a day’ to mean that the fruit-flavoured beers in the ad’s body copy counted towards the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetable.
“Because alcoholic drinks did not count towards a person’s ‘five a day’, we concluded that the claim was misleading,” the ASA said.
BrewDog has a long history of upsetting the ASA. Only last month the brand faced a backlash after it said it would screen World Cup soccer matches at its bars while also running a marketing campaign criticising host nation Qatar’s human rights record.
The pub and brewery chain promised that profits made from sales of one particular BrewDog beer during the tournament would go to “causes fighting human rights abuses”. However, it suffered a public backlash following claims it was profiteering from the Qatar tournament while at the same time publicly criticising it.
Early this year, current and former BrewDog employees claimed there was a “toxic” culture at the business and there were even claims of “inappropriate behaviour” and abuse of power by its CEO, James Watt.
Former Brewdog USA workers said Watt’s behaviour made female bartenders feel “uncomfortable” and “powerless”. Watt has subsequently denied the allegations.
The company, which has more than 100 bars and employs more than 2000 people worldwide, claims it is worth about £2 billion ($A3.6 billion).
In November, BrewDog launched in Australia with a 900-seat brewery in the Redfern rail yards redevelopment in inner-west Sydney.
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