Scotland-based BrewDog has had an outdoor campaign for its non-alcoholic beer Punk AF banned for alluding to a swear word.
The outdoor poster ad, which was seen in October 2019, included text that said “Sober as a motherfu” next to an image of a beer can with the text “BrewDog”, “Punk AF” and “Alcohol Free IPA” written on it.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the self-regulatory organization of the advertising industry in the United Kingdom, received 26 complaints about the ad. All of the complaints criticized the ad as likely to cause serious or widespread offense. 16 of the complaints also questioned if it was appropriate for such an ad to be displayed in a medium where it could be seen by children.
In response, BrewDog said the ad contained no profanity and was promoting an alternative to alcohol consumption. While it admitted the ad was designed to be eye-catching, it said it didn’t see how any offense caused could be construed as “serious”.
While “motherfucker” is considered to be vulgar slang, because the word was not used in full BrewDog could not seen how the ad could be offensive.
The ASA disagreed, however, saying that while the word was not displayed in its entirety it was clearly being alluded to and “motherfu” would be understood as a clear reference to the swear word. Because of this, it should not appear in media where it could be viewed by a general audience.
“We concluded the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offense and that it was not appropriate for display in media where it could be seen by children,” says the ASA in its ruling.
The decision comes after the ASA made a similar ruling against KFC for its “What the cluck” outdoor and press ads. While neither ad included a swear word, both made allusions to one, with the ad regulator now making it clear such advertising will be banned.