ABAC has dismissed a complaint that Lion was making health claims with its current Hahn Ultra Crisp advertising campaign.
The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme investigated a complaint made in June that objected to Hahn Ultra Crisp’s use of the words ‘ultra good inside’ together with “lower carb” and gluten free”.
The complainant said that Lion’s ‘sneaky’ and ‘unethical’ marketing tactics, part of outdoor and television adverts for the beer, implied that Hahn Ultra Crisp should be considered healthy due to its gluten-free and lower-carb content.
It said Lion was trying to convince the public to continue drinking alcohol in a ‘declining market’.
The claimant also maintained that alcohol is a class-1 carcinogen and that international cancer research agencies had concluded there was ‘no safe level’ of alcohol consumption so it should not be suggested that full strength beer is ‘good’.
Lion had responded to the complaint saying that the advert portrays an active lifestyle but this was not as a result of the subject of the advert drinking Hahn Ultra Crisp.
It said that its claims of the beer being ‘Ultra Good Inside’ relate to the internal qualities of the beer itself, including its taste, rather than beer in general.
The advert was designed to overcome the ‘common misconception’ that gluten-free products have an inferior taste to standard products, Lion said.
ABAC judged that it was a reasonable to assume that the beer could be suitable for a person with an active and physical lifestyle, without Lion claiming a therapeutic benefit.
No express or implied health claims are made by the advert, it said, and it does not imply that drinking the beer will make the subject any better at sports. ACAB dismissed the claim on 21st June.
The ABAC code stipulates that marketing cannot imply that the consumption of an alcoholic drink offers any therapeutic benefit.
Acknowledging that alcohol is not ‘just another product’ and that additional rules should apply to its marketing, the investigating ABAC panel said that the ‘no safe level’ argument went beyond its scope of investigation.
Alcohol marketing is a ‘shared regulatory space’, it said, and the safety of foodstuffs is regulated by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, which puts the carcinogenic argument outside its remit.
In dismissing the complaint, the adjudication panel used the reasonable person test to find that the implication of the advertisement is that the product is a good choice for someone who has an active and quite physical lifestyle.
“The key issue is whether the ad is suggesting that the consumption of the product is offering a positive health benefit to the man i.e.will the use of the product make the man ‘healthy’ and active,” the decision said.
“Or does the ad simply suggest the product is suitable for a person who is active without claiming the product provides a therapeutic benefit.”
The panel dismissed the complaint saying the ads breach the ABAC standard as the ads don’t assert a positive health benefit will be obtained from the product’s consumption.
The ads had been passed by the ABAC pre-vetting service.
Lion launched Hahn Ultra Crisp in February 2019, it’s first gluten-free beer offering as it looked to adapt to changing tastes in the beer market. It’s brewed entirely with rice and was endorsed by Coeliac Australia.