ABAC backflips on Hard Solo triggering a name change

November 16, 2023
By Melissa Parker

Carlton & United Breweries’ Hard Solo, the alcoholic version of popular lemon squash drink Solo, has changed its name to Hard Rated after formal complaints concerning its appeal to underage drinkers triggered a new review by the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC).

Among those concerned was Independent MP Kylea Tink who said Hard Solo didn’t pass the pub test and the Cancer Council of Western Australia lodged a complaint with ABAC in August.

CEO of the Independent Brewers Association, Kylie Lethbridge called it a ‘sheep in wolves’ clothing’ and was publicly scathing about it saying it “looks like a soft drink, tastes like a soft drink and has the name as a soft drink.”

Blind taste tests of the drink on TikTok attracted thousands of views and caused a stir with some tasters claiming they couldn’t taste the alcohol.

The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme previously ruling Hard Solo compliant with the requirements of the Code has acquiesced to the burgeoning complaints around the product and found it to breach the Code standard [s3(b)(i) on strong or evident appeal to minors.]

Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) is changing the name of its RTD to Hard Rated.

CUB issued a statement explaining it was disappointed with the outcome but accepted the latest review of the ABAC.

“CUB respects the work of ABAC, particularly the chief adjudicator, former Australian Attorney-General, Professor the Hon. Michael Lavarch AO. ABAC performs an important role in ensuring that alcohol marketing is undertaken responsibly,” it said.

The statement said as the Hard Solo brand exits the market, CUB assures Australian adults who have loved Hard Solo that the taste won’t change when the name changes to Hard Rated.

Hard Solo branding and packaging will be removed from shelves no later than 9 February 2024 including tap decals in pubs and clubs, all of which will have transitioned to Hard Rated.

“Importantly, the preparation to transition from Hard Solo to Hard Rated has commenced to minimise potential disruption of our Alcoholic Lemon drink to retail and on-premise customers,” the statement continued.

Each 375ml can of Hard Rated contains 4.5 per cent alcohol content – or about 1.3 standard drinks.

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