Hard Solo To Be Renamed Hard Rated Following ABAC Decision

November 16, 2023, by Media Release

Hard Solo To Be Renamed Hard Rated Following ABAC Decision

CUB have said they're changing the name of Hard Solo to Hard Rated. That announcement follows a decision from ABAC that found the beverage to be in breach of the Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code.

The full media releases from CUB and ABAC below. 

Hard Solo to be renamed Hard Rated

Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) will change the name of its ready-to-drink alcohol lemon beverage Hard Solo to Hard Rated.

This follows the release today of the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme’s (ABAC) decision in response to complaints about Hard Solo.

Despite ABAC pre-vetting considering Hard Solo an appropriate product and consistent with the requirements of the Code, the ABAC panel’s final determination has found that the name Hard Solo breaches the Code standard [s3(b)(i) on strong or evident appeal to minors.]

While we are disappointed by the outcome, we accept ABAC’s decision.

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.

The Hard Rated liquid will be identical to Hard Solo – the only thing that will change is the name and packaging.

A CUB spokesperson said:

“As we comply with the ABAC decision and the Hard Solo brand exits the market, we’d like to assure the many Australian adults who have loved Hard Solo that the taste won’t change when the name changes to Hard Rated.”

“Consistent with ABAC rules, CUB will ensure the last Hard Solo can packaging will exit our supply network by no later than 9 February 2024 (s4.17. of the ABAC Code). Additionally, Hard Solo tap decals in pubs and clubs will also have transitioned to Hard Rated by that date. “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.”

Hard Solo Packaging - ABAC Panel Decision Released

The ABAC Adjudication Panel (Panel) has determined that the packaging (can design) of the Ready to Drink alcohol beverage (RTD) 'Hard Solo' has breached the ABAC Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code (Code). The Panel's decision followed the receipt of multiple public complaints raising concerns that the brand name and can design of the product strongly appeals to minors.

“The Panel decided that the packaging breached the standard contained in Part 3(b)(i) of the Code by having strong or evident appeal to minors. This followed careful consideration of the public complaints and the detailed submissions from Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), the producers of Hard Solo. The process involved CUB seeking a re-hearing of the Panel’s earlier provisional determination.” ABAC Panel Chair, Professor Michael Lavarch said

“This decision was the first occasion the Panel has been called upon to assess the packaging of an RTD product with a brand name and core branding elements taken from a well-established and iconic soft drink brand.

“CUB were careful to devise a packaging design that identified Hard Solo as an alcoholic beverage and not a soft drink. However, the Panel believed a reasonable person would probably understand that as a household soft drink brand found in an estimated 1.7 million homes, stocked in supermarkets and convenience stores and marketed freely without the restrictions placed on alcohol products, Solo was an entirely familiar and relatable brand to minors. Using the Solo name and other branding features on Hard Solo would elevate the appeal of Hard Solo and create an illusion for minors of a smooth transition from the non-alcoholic to alcoholic variant of Solo.'

“Hard Solo was a novel case in that previous RTD packaging designs considered by ABAC had been built upon emphasising an alcohol type or a well-known alcohol brand being combined with a soft drink such as cola or ginger ale. Hard Solo packaging in contrast is led by the brand recognition of Solo soft drink. Because of the novel issue, the number of complaints spread over a month and the two-stage process for final decisions on brand names and packaging, the Panel determination was lengthy, and the process has taken several months to finalise. Most ABAC decisions are made within 30 days.”

CUB have accepted the decision and have advised that in accordance with the ABAC Rules they have immediately ceased further orders for production of this packaging. Transition provisions apply to pre-existing stocks.

The ABAC Independent Chair, the Hon Tony Smith added “I am satisfied that the Panel has adopted a rigorous and considered process in making this landmark decision. The independence and integrity of the Panel and its combined expertise in law, public health and media is crucial in ensuring that its decisions are consistent with the ABAC Code standards, that are developed to reflect community expectations.”

More information about the Code and the full determination are available at: http://www.abac.org.au/

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