Brewdog cans

Watt said complaints made to regulators like the ASA were costing BrewDog time and money to defend

BrewDog has seen one of its adverts censored by the ASA for failing to adequately substantiate claims about the carbon negative credentials of its beer.

The advertising watchdog said a social media advert by BrewDog from July failed to make clear on what basis its beers could be considered to be carbon negative.

The advert featured a childlike drawing of Earth covered in flames, accompanied by text stating “drink it for me” in the style of a child’s handwriting.

The poster described BrewDog as “beer for your grandchildren”, while the accompanying caption said BrewDog was “the world’s first carbon negative brewery”.

The ASA upheld two complaints that the advert was misleading on the basis it had failed to make clear that the phrase “carbon negative” meant that producing the beer sequestered more carbon than it emitted.

“We considered that there was no information provided in the ad which explained the basis of BrewDog’s ‘carbon negative’ accreditation or the claim ‘Beer for your grandchildren’,” the ASA said. “Although we acknowledged that the ad referred consumers to a link for the BrewDog website which contained further information about their carbon reduction and offsetting project, we considered that the ad itself did not include information which explained the basis of the claim.

“Without that information, we considered that consumers would not have sufficient information to understand the basis of the environmental claims in the ad.”

BrewDog’s CEO James Watt criticised the ruling on LinkedIn, pointing out: “If you’re just skimming, you’ll probably think we’ve been told we can no longer claim our beers are carbon negative”.

“The ASA doesn’t have a problem with us claiming our beers are carbon negative,” he said. “The substantiation we provide meets the ASA’s criteria. And we are also fully independently certified as carbon negative.”

Watt said complaints made to regulators like the ASA and the Portman Group were costing BrewDog time and money, and implied they could be made by competitor brands.

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

This is far from the first time BrewDog has fallen foul of the ASA. Last year, the Punk IPA brewer was told by the watchdog a marketing email implying its fruit beers counted as “one of your five a day” could mislead customers.

In January 2023, Watt claimed he had paid almost £500,000 in compensation to winners of BrewDog’s ‘solid gold’ beer can promotion, after the ASA ruled in 2021 that he had misled consumers about the value of the cans in a series of tweets.