In an announcement which came with all the bravado that BrewDog is famous for, the Scotland-headquartered global craft brewer declared that it is now ‘carbon negative’ and removing more CO2 from the air than it emits.
No problem there right? BrewDog’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and the environment is undeniably impressive.
It’s the “F**k You CO2” billboards the company raised in the UK celebrating this accomplishment that caused a stir. And it’s not like they came as a total surprise.
The billboards and posters which started turning up in cities around the UK were but the latest step in a campaign designed to “shock people into thinking about the planet and reducing and removing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere”, according to the brewer.
The company had already run ads containing the phrase “F**k You CO2 BrewDog Beer Is Now Carbon Negative” (letters between F and K were obscured by a can of beer) in major UK publications like the Metro, The Week and The Economist and nobody seemed to mind.
But once the billboards went up, some people started complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who took the issue on.
“BrewDog argued the billboards and posters has been approved by media partners and by local councils to meet guidelines around using profanity near schools and places of worship,” according to the Drinks Business.
However, the ASA ruled that “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.”
The ASA, which ironically spelled out the word in full seven times in its ruling, did acknowledge that the posters and billboards did show an obscured version of the word “Fuck” and that it was in keeping with ALL local guidelines, but they were still having none of it…
“Nevertheless, we considered it would be clear to most of those who saw it 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.”
The advertising watchdog said the print ad should not have appeared in the Metro which is a widely circulated free newspaper in the United Kingdom, but further action was not necessary for the ad appearing in The Week or The Economist.
Responding to the ruling, the always restrained BrewDog co-founder, James Watt told The Drum 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.”