Business Insider Edition

'No alcohol' Savannas still contain some alcohol - here's how many will put you over the legal alcohol limit

Helena Wasserman , Business Insider SA
 Aug 12, 2019, 11:24 AM
The new Savanna ad for its non-alcoholic cider features a thirsty traffic cop.
  • The advertising regulator has found that Savanna can't use the words "no alcohol" to describe its new non-alcoholic cider.
  • The product contains 0.3% alcohol - twenty of these ciders within an hour will have you reach the legal alcohol limit.
  • For more stories, go to www.businessinsider.co.za.


Savanna’s new non-alcoholic cider contains some alcohol (0.3%) – and the advertising regulator has ruled that its new television ad must reflect this.

The ad features a traffic officer and a pilot in a bar, enjoying what appears to startled onlookers as straight-up Savanna cider. One character then explains that they are in fact drinking “Savanna with no alcohol”.

The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) received two complaints about the ad, which objected to the fact that it calls the cider non-alcoholic whereas in reality it contains alcohol, and also that it wrongly sends a message to the public that even someone who is on duty can consume the product.

Distell, which owns Savanna, responded that in terms of the Liquor Products Act, an alcoholic beverage is defined as a product which contains more than 0.5% alcohol by volume. Savanna Non-Alcoholic Lemon contains 0.3%.

Distell calculated that you would need to drink twenty 330ml Savanna Non-Alcoholic ciders within an hour to reach the legal alcohol limit.

In its ruling about the complaints, the ARB says that it would feel far more comfortable if the ad itself contained some sort of disclaimer to say that the cider contains 0.3% alcohol or “trace amounts” of alcohol. However, given the legislation, the words “non-alcoholic” therefore cannot present a problem.

However it does object to the fact that a character in the ad used the words “Savanna with no alcohol”. According to the ARB, this goes beyond the specific mandates of legislation; and the repercussions of a misunderstanding could be deeply upsetting for a consumer. It ruled against the use of those words in the Savanna ad.

It also overruled the objection against the use of a traffic cop and a pilot as characters in the ad.

The pilot character featured in the new Savanna ad.

“The Directorate is of the opinion that in this instance, the over-the-top portrayal of a police officer and a pilot in a bar, ordering and drinking a cider that appears to contain alcohol, is part of a twist in the plot. The aim is to reveal that although they are consuming what appears to be a branded alcoholic drink – an act that might be against the requirements of the Code, as both the pilot and the traffic officer are in uniform, and the traffic officer is seen riding his official motorbike – the drink that is being consumed is non-alcoholic. They are therefore not being irresponsible.”

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