AUSTRALIA – Japanese conglomerate Asahi Breweries has announced its decision to rename controversial Hard Solo RTD to Hard rated in compliance with a ruling by Australia’s Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme’s (ABAC). 

Asahi operates in Australia through its melbourne based subsidiary Carlton & United Breweries (CUB). 

According to ABAC, the drink name Hard Solo was found appealing to minors thus encouraging consumption by consumers under the recommended drinking age. 

ABAC Panel Chair Professor Michael Lavarch said; “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, Solo was an entirely familiar and relatable brand to minors.” 

To comply with the Australian regulator’s determination, CUB will affect the transition to the new name Hard Rated. 

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

The rebranding process will need to be complete by 9 February 2024. Additionally, Hard Solo tap decals in pubs and clubs will also have transitioned to Hard Rated by that date according to the company. 

 “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.  

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.” 

Hard Solo sold out at many Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Liquorland and independent bottle shops across country when it was released earlier this year, with calls to ban the RTD fuelling its popularity. 

Bottle shop owners reported sales were already booming due to positive word of mouth before Cancer Council WA and politicians including the Teal MPs started pushing for it to be taken off shelves.