BrewDog’s climate awareness ad banned by ASA

19 November, 2020

BrewDog has responded to the Advertising Standards Authority with characteristic derision, telling the ad watchdog they “can go fuck themselves”, after receiving its second ban in under a year.

The advertisement, launched to spread awareness of the brewer’s aspiring status as a carbon-negative company, reads “Fuck You CO2”, the middle of the first word obscured by a can of the brewery’s flagship Punk IPA.

The campaign appeared on billboards in five locations in the UK as well as in print in Metro, The Economist and The Week.

After receiving 25 complaints, the ASA launched an investigation to determine, “whether the text “Fuck You” was offensive and inappropriate for display in a medium where it could be seen by children”.

In their assessment, the watchdog concluded that: “The ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and was not appropriate for display in untargeted media… the ad must not appear again in the form complained of unless suitably targeted.

“We considered the word “Fuck” was so likely to offend a general audience that such a reference should not appear in media where it was viewable by such an audience.”

This ruling applied to the billboards and Metro but does not include The Week or The Economist. The ASA concluded that these publications are actively purchased and have an adult readership, and consequently the advertisement was unlikely to cause offence to readers.

In a statement responding to the ruling, BrewDog’s co-founder James Watt said: “Today, the Advertising Standards Agency banned our activism advert. They can go and fuck themselves. We are facing an existential climate crisis. I would also like to thank Metro & The Economist for understanding the importance of our climate campaign & running the ad.”

The Scottish brewer and the ASA have a long history of confrontation, with the ad watchdog banning a billboard advertisement for the brewery’s alcohol-free Punk AF in December of last year. The advertisement, that read “Sober as a Motherfu”, was banned after receiving 26 complaints.

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