When is Controversy Too Much for your Marketing?

7 Dec '23

When is Controversy Too Much for your Marketing?

You may have heard the saying "any publicity is good publicity", but when does controversy get in the way of your brand and your marketing? 

Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) has felt the pressure of the launch of Hard Solo and the controversy surrounding its similarity to the classic lemon beverage Solo and its appeal to minors.

After a review from the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme (ABAC) initially stating that the drink met the marketing standards, a secondary review determined that the drink was too similar to the old non-alcoholic variant.

Following this, "Hard Solo" will be rebranded as "Hard Rated", with no change to the contents of the beverage itself.

Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) acknowledged the decision and stated that the change to Hard Rated would be implemented by February 9 of 2024.

Why is this important to consider?

Not all of your products may have the same target audience and making a clear divide between your audiences is sometimes just as important as making a recognisable product.

The strategic decision to introduce an alcoholic version of the traditional Solo lemon soft drink, with a packaging design reminiscent of its non-alcoholic counterpart, can be viewed as a calculated move to harness brand loyalty, expand consumer outreach, weave a cohesive brand narrative, embrace innovation, and stand out in a competitive market. However, in this case, the attempt to harness nostalgia has landed them in hot water and forced a change in the branding and a costly loss.

With all of this being said, no matter the name on the can, Australians will now always know the beverage as Hard Solo.

If you want to know how you can harness your brand's power the right way? Talk to 2CM today!