BrewDog boss hits back at advertising regulator over climate beer post

20 December 2023 by
BrewDog boss hits back at advertising regulator over climate beer post

BrewDog boss James Watt has criticised the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for banning an Instagram ad which claimed the brewer's beers were carbon negative.

The original post from July this year feature an image of a childlike drawing of Earth covered in flames, with text that said, ‘drink it for me'.

A tagline described it as ‘Beer for your grandchildren' and claimed BrewDog was ‘the world's first carbon negative brewery'.

Two complaints that the ad failed to make the basis of the carbon negative claim clear were upheld by the ASA.

In a lengthy rebuttal on LinkedIn, Watt said BrewDog had met the ASA's criteria and had been certified as carbon negative by advisory firm Positive Planet.

"You can all sleep more soundly now, knowing that the ASA is protecting you from insufficiently extensive carbon accounting data in your Insta feed," he wrote.

The ad referred customers to a link in BrewDog's bio that provided more information on the claims, but the ASA said there was not enough detail shared in the post itself.

BrewDog has a history of falling foul of the ASA, which last year ruled a marketing email implying its fruit beers counted as "one of your five a day" could mislead customers. Watt responded by agreeing that "beer is not a fruit".

In January, Watt paid out almost £500,000 to the winners of a competition where 50 gold-plated cans were hidden in cases of BrewDog beer after mistakenly implying they were made of solid gold.

Writing on LinkedIn, he claimed BrewDog had spent over £50,000 defending itself from a complaint against its new session IPA, Wingman, made to alcohol labelling regulator Portman Group. The complaint was not upheld.

"Dealing with regulators sucks up a lot of time," he wrote.

"When challenges are upheld, fair enough, but when they're not, you have conflicting emotions. Pleased that you've been vindicated, angry at the time and money needlessly spent defending yourself."

Watt added: "There is no mechanism for recovering the time and money wasted on defending yourself, which is aggravating, especially at a time we would far rather spend our money on job creation.

"If I wanted to distract my competitors and seriously dent their margins, I could do a lot worse than fire off spurious complaints."

BrewDog operates around 100 bars and hotels worldwide and is looking to triple its footprint with the launch of a further 200 venues in "key markets" over the next seven years.

Image: BrewDog

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