Brewing votes

05 June 2017 | Lloyd Hughes

With the election coming up on Thursday, the media has been heavily dominated by politics.

Usually for brands, this means that the chance of getting press coverage is restricted, as the bulk of papers, online articles and news bulletins are taken up by stories with a political slant. So, unless brands are willing to take up the political baton, then they’re going to struggle to generate coverage amidst the flurry of sharp elbowed campaigning and trash talk from the main political parties.

Politics is also a prickly business to get hold of – especially in these highly divisive times. Voicing a political opinion nowadays tends to require a hardhat to weather the storm of right or left wing vitriol that comes your way if you go against either side. It’s a brave brand that plumps for one end of the political spectrum over the other in its message, as it risks alienating parts of their consumer base.

Judging by the bulk of social media – and Twitter in particular – you’d be forgiven for thinking that the overriding sentiment of the UK population is liberal, left wing and anti-Brexit. You’d think it safe to assume that taking this stance puts you in a favourable position. However, the EU referendum result demonstrated how false that assumption can be.

Judging by my own social media channels, my left-leaning friends on Facebook or left-wing accounts I follow on Twitter are extremely vocal in putting out their views and often vociferous in their condemnation and scorn for those who disagree with them. That’s not to say that my right-leaning connections don’t do the same, but (perhaps it’s the so called ‘echo chamber’ effect), it certainly seems the left are the more confrontational and most likely to beat the drums of anger loudest.

Going by the election results of 2015, where the Conservative majority came as a real shock to my leftist friends (and in fairness to most people, including the pollsters), the majority of Conservative voters quietly go about their business, keeping their views to themselves until it comes to ticking that all important ballot paper in the polling station.

This is something that brands need to be wary of. It’s easy to generate multiple likes and retweets with certain sentiments on certain platforms but there’s a genuine risk that the ‘silent majority’, as that section of society has been labelled, will harbour a quiet grudge against your brand that they simply don’t like to vocalise.

The best course of action (unless you’re really politically motivated) is to opt to sit on the fence and not voice political opinion. Referring back to my earlier point then, what can you do to get noticed during election time if you want to avoid conflict by opining politically?

Well BrewDog, that PR crafty craft beer company, has gone about it in a novel way and latched on to the political coat tails by urging people to get voting. The marketing savvy brewers have provided a voting incentive by offering everyone who votes, a free beer in one of its 29 BrewDog bars dotted about the country.

This has taken a seemingly neutral political tone, but one that followers of all parties (Conservatives perhaps less so) can get on board with. By encouraging people to engage with the democratic process, BrewDog looks like it’s doing its bit for society, while getting a healthy dose of good PR coverage at the same time.

There is actually a BrewDog in Edinburgh, but far enough from my polling station for me not to make the effort to go, so it’s a nice PR stunt, which, while potentially costing them a few free beers, won’t be outstripping the value of the wide range of positive brand coverage, both regional and national, that the story has received.

There’s also the added bonus that one free beer might lead to a few paid for beers – something that will give a welcome boost to its pub takings. BrewDog is once again on the PR ball. Tip of the cap to you, sirs.