In July, BrewDog sent out a summer marketing email to subscribers, with the subject heading reading ‘One of your five a day’: building on the summery fruity theme for its fruit beers throughout the email.
Upholding a complaint against the Scottish craft brewer, the ASA said consumers would expect any such claims to align with government advice on health and wellbeing and thus created a misleading claim.
Following on from the ‘one of your five a day’ heading, the body of the email also featured the heading ‘feeling fruity’, alongside an image of a BrewDog beer can with the text ‘Hazy Jane Guava’.
Smaller text built on the summer fruit theme, reading: ‘Summer is well and truly here. Quench your thirst while soaking up the sun (or rain) with our fruit laden favourites. From Pineapple Punch to our limited edition Hazy Jane Passionfruit, we’ve got all your fruit needs covered!’
BrewDog acknowledged that the advertised beers did not count towards a consumer’s ‘five a day’. However, in defending the mailshot, it said recipients would generally understand that alcoholic beverages were not equivalent to portions of fruit or vegetables.
It emphasized that the subject heading was neither intended to be, nor likely to be, interpreted as a factual claim about the beers featured in the body of the email.
In particular, it highlighted that the email was only sent to existing BrewDog consumers who had opted-in to receiving marketing emails – and thus would be aware of the brewer’s playful marketing style and would recognize the ‘claim’ as a tongue-in-cheek remark.
But the ASA disagreed: saying that consumers would expect a statement drawing on the well-known government-backed phrase to be accordingly in line with government advice.
“Government guidelines recommended people eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day ('5 A Day'). We acknowledged that the subject heading “One of your five a day” might be interpreted by some consumers as a humorous nod to the fruit flavored beers featured in the body of the email,” said the ASA.
“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 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.
“We understood that many consumers would be aware that some craft beers contained an unusually high amount of fruit. We considered that, in general, consumers would be uncertain as to whether an alcoholic beverage with fruit content counted as a portion of fruit under the government’s ‘5 A Day’ advice, or whether some of the nutritional benefits of a ‘5 A Day’ portion would be retained.
"We therefore considered consumers were likely to interpret the claim “One of your five a day” to mean that the fruit flavored beers in the ad’s body copy counted towards the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.”
Because alcoholic drinks do not count towards a person's ‘5 A day’, the ASA therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.
Known for its edgy marketing, BrewDog has previously been in hot water with the ASA over adverts the watchdog deemed likely to cause ‘serious and widespread offense’: such as it’s ‘Sober as a motherfu’ and ‘F**k you CO2’ taglines.