BrewDog is not shy about their self-described ‘punk’ attitude or their progressive initiatives. So, when the cult darling brewery announced carbon negative status, with an ad campaign slogan of “F**k carbon,” fans were elated. The UK’s censors at Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) were not as enthusiastic; in fact, the group demanded that BrewDog change their language.
BrewDog achieved the carbon negative designation after years of planning and action that included changes to their brewing and canning facilities as well planting a 2000 acre forest.
The brewers then announced their achievement with billboards across the UK and advertisements in The Metro, The Week, and The Economist. The ads declared, “Fuck You CO2 Brewdog Beer Is Now Carbon Negative” with a beer can hiding the letters ‘u’ and ‘c’.
Alas, not all Britons are so environmentally conscious. The campaign received 25 complaints which prompted an ASA investigation. The group ruled against the brewer, writing that “the word ’Fuck’ [sic] 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.”
The decision included a detailed breakdown which singled out the billboards and ads in free papers as particular offenses. However, under the agency’s complex guidelines, the ads that ran in The Economist were somehow okay.
BrewDog Founder and frontman James Watt was not impressed with the ASA’s many picadillos of censorship. In an interview with The Drum he first noted that the advertising partners approved of BrewDog’s choice of diction.
Then, Watts mentioned that the ASA “can go fuck themselves. We are in the midst of an existential climate crisis. Thank you to the Metro, The Week, The Economist and billboard sites for understanding the importance of our carbon negative campaign.”