A new alcoholic drink is being criticised for appealing to underage drinkers, due to its similar branding, name and taste to an original soft drink.
The recently-launched Hard Solo is sold in cans containing 1.3 standard drinks (4.5% alcohol). The cans feature the same lemon tree branding as the non-alcoholic beverage.
The likeness of the two products has triggered concern from Federal politicians that the product is being marketed to children.
Is Hard Solo being marketed to children?
As part of a push to increase health and safety, Cancer Council WA said it’s made a formal complaint about how Hard Solo was being marketed.
It argued that Hard Solo was being marketed to children because the packaging (including its shape, colours, icon, and font) is too similar to the non-alcoholic version, which is popular among young Australians.
Crossbench voice child marketing concerns:
A group of Federal crossbenchers have voiced similar concerns. Independent MP Kylea Tink said on Thursday there were issues with the entire Hard Solo product, including its taste and branding.
Tink and other independents met with alcohol industry members to discuss the issues around Hard Solo today.
Health Minister Mark Butler told the ABC he was yet to make a judgement on Hard Solo’s marketing. However, he said that any alcohol product “should not be marketed to kids”.
Butler said he’s asked the Department of Health for further advice, and is “keen” to speak to the independents involved in today’s discussions.
CUB Premium Beverages, a subsidiary of Solo’s owner Asahi Beverages, said it “strongly refutes claims” that Hard Solo is being marketed to minors. It also pushed back against claims it could be confused with Solo.
It said that adults make up 85% of regular Solo drinkers, and that Hard Solo has a “bitter finish” that differentiates itself from the soft drink.
Hard Solo won’t be advertised on social media platforms including TikTok and Instagram, or on TV or radio, according to CUB.