The advertising watchdog has rapped Brewdog on the knuckles over an outdoor poster ad featuring the slogan “SOBER AS A MOTHERFU” next to a picture of Punk AF.

The Scottish brewer was promoting the alcohol-free version of its popular Punk IPA brand and turned to Uncommon Creative Studio for the ad.

It received 26 complaints from members of the public, who said it had the potential to cause “serious or widespread offence”. Sixteen complainants also objected to children being able to see it.

Brewdog argued that the ad was not designed to cause offence and that did not actually feature profanity. The brewer said it was designed to be eye-catching and considered a positive ad as it promoted being sober.

The Brewdog team said 26 complaints does not amount to widespread offence and it could not see how any offence caused could be construed as “serious”.

Yet the ASA sided with the complainants and ordered Brewdog not to run the ad again.

“One complainant identified that the ad was placed immediately outside a primary school,” said the ASA in its judgement. “We considered older children and adults who saw the ad would understand “MOTHERFU” was a truncated version of the expletive ‘motherfucker’.

“We acknowledged that the word was not displayed in its entirety; however, we considered the word ‘motherfucker’ was clearly being alluded to, and “motherfu” would therefore be understood as a clear reference to that swear word.

“We considered that word 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. We concluded the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and that it was not appropriate for display in media where it could be seen by children.

“We told Brewdog to ensure they avoided causing serious or widespread offence by, for example, avoiding references to expletives in media targeted to a general audience which included children.”