Formal complaint lodged over new Hard Solo drink appealing to minors

The new alcoholic version of the popular soft drink Solo sparked formal complaints amid fears that it might appeal to minors.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Cancer Council of Western Australia filed a complaint with the Alcohol Beverages Adverting Code (ABAC). The council argued the manufacturer of the drink, Asahi, had violated the section of the code prohibiting alcoholic beverages from having a “strong, obvious appeal” for minors.

Alcohol producers agree to adhere to this code when they advertise their products. The code was updated on 1 August to reflect increased concerns regarding the use of soft drinks and confectionary flavors, as well as the marketing of alcohol.

The complaint stated that “Solo” is a popular soft drink in Australia. It is well-known among children and teens and has recognizable branding, packaging, and advertising.

The Hard Solo is an extension of Solo’s soft drink, with the same packaging, brand colors, icon, font, and shape.

No fines or penalties are imposed for violations of the code.

Hayden Turner, the head of marketing at Asahi’s CUB Premium Beverages subsidiary, told The Herald that it was impossible to confuse this drink with lemon squash because its distinctive black cans, alcohol markings, and distinct black cans made it difficult to be confused.

Mr Turner said that the product has been pre-vetted by ABAC.

Caterina Giorgi, the chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), said that teen drinking rates had declined in the past 15 years. In a 2019 survey, more than two-thirds of respondents aged 14-17 said they did not drink alcohol.

The Herald reported that Ms Giorgi said, “This is the first example we are aware of in Australia.”

It’s a taste that’s familiar to people, even young people. So they’re trying to capitalize on this particular market.

The new drink has already been the subject of thousands of blind taste tests on TikTok, with some claiming that they “can’t taste the alcohol.”

It’s very concerning. If I were a child and just picked up this book, I would not know the difference.

Hard Solo 375ml contains 4.5 percent alcohol, or about 1.3 standard beverages.

Most RTDs and Seltzers are made with ethanol as the alcohol component.

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