Brewing up a storm

November 10th 2022 By Lloyd Hughes 2 minute read

The world was seemingly up in arms last week when Brewdog revealed its latest stunt – a series of billboards announcing the brand was the ‘anti-sponsor’ of the Qatar-based football World Cup.
Always quick to jump on the purported culture wars, Brewdog was happy to wade in yet again – with some witty takes on footballing corruption and anti-bigotry included alongside the artwork (tip of the cap to the copywriters).
This time though, the reception was damning. The Brewdog name has faced a lot of backlash in recent years, with speculation about the conduct of the founders towards staff having been the subject of a BBC documentary (with plenty of other controversy on top).
That kind of smoke doesn’t do a brand any favours and it’s safe to say, it doesn’t look like the top bods practice much of what they preach.
So, when they so publicly put themselves out there, taking a controversial stance all in the name of PR – it sticks in many people’s craw.
Lots have pointed out that this one rings particularly hollow given that, despite being anti-World Cup (for this one tournament at least) it’s still showing the games in all its pubs. But, even worse, it turns out Brewdog actually has a deal in place to sell booze to Qatar specifically for the tournament (although, edit, Qatar has since kiboshed that at the last minute – so jokes on you Brewdog, etc etc).
Generally, I take this kind of storm with a pinch of salt – lots of PR land and Adland are quick to jump on other brands and slate their work, and it’s often not reflective of wider society’s take on things. I’m sure the average bod in the supermarket couldn’t care less about the ethical stance of many a retailer – and Brewdog’s beer will be no different.

So, whilst people on the twits and LinkedIn are screaming at the audacity, Joe Public is chucking a few tins in the shopping trolley having merely thought “That’s a brand I recognise, it’s probably a decent beer.”
Given that, I’d be inclined to say, “Fair play, Brewdog, for causing a stir yet again, and getting lots of eyes on your work.”
This time though, in light of the distribution deal, this is a bad one. It’s hypocrisy to the max and the brand shouldn’t have done it given its commercial dealings. But despite me finally wagging the finger, again, I don’t think consumers will care too much. It is though just another large stain on an increasingly grubby brand. Given I’ve admired much of Brewdog’s bold PR work over the years, it’s sad to see when it sullies itself by getting it wrong.

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