Brewdog’s “F**k You C02” advert, which ran throughout August 2020 across outdoor posters and in print titles has been found in breach of the Advertising Standard Authority’s Code of Practice.
The poster, seen in a number of locations around the UK, featured large text taking up the whole ad, which stated “F**k You C02. Brewdog Beer is Now Carbon Negative”. The letters between F and K were obscured by a can of Brewdog Punk IPA. The press ad, which ran in The Metro, The Week and The Economist, was identical to the poster.
The complainants challenged whether the text “F**k You” was offensive and inappropriate for display in a medium where it could be seen by children.
In considering the complaints the ASA said although it considered it would be clear to most that the ad referred to the word ‘Fuck’ in the context of the expression “Fuck You” and was making a pun in reference to the impact of climate change, it also felt the advert could cause “serious and widespread offence”.
It said: “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.
“We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and was not appropriate for display in untargeted media. On that point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (responsible advertising) and 4.1 (harm and offence).”
This ruling applied to outdoor adverts and The Metro but it did not find it in breach of the Code in respect of its appearance in The Week and The Economist. The latter two publications are not free, and the ASA said the ads intended message would not be out of place for these readers.
It said: “While some readers might have found it distasteful, we considered it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence in those publications.”
Brewdog said it did not believe the message would have caused harm or offence.
In response to the ASA ruling, the brewer said it had wanted to shock people into thinking about the planet and reducing and removing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. It also said the ads implied a swear word but that it was not explicitly stated, which they believed followed precedent of what was acceptable.