Brewdog offer a gold can ‘apology’ – but it’s a kick in the teeth for the winners
This blog post was published at 8.30am on 20 October – read to the end to find out what happened in the following 2 hours…
Do you remember the controversy about the Brewdog gold cans earlier this year?
Brewdog gave away several gold beer cans worth £15,000 in competitions between November 2020 and June 2021. The tweet launching the competition claimed the can was solid gold.
Dear People Of The World,
10 solid gold Punk IPA cans are hidden in Punk 12-packs which will ship from our online shop over the next 4 weeks.
Winners receive a gold can worth £15K, £10k of BrewDog shares & VIP tour of our Brewery.
— BrewDog (@BrewDog) November 12, 2020
The original gold can winners received their £15k cans at the end of 2020. The promotion was repeated in 2021, and I was one of the second batch of gold can winners in April. I was incredibly excited by my prize – the biggest prize I’ve won since I started comping (or so I thought….).
But in June 2021 the press published a story about lucky winner Mark Craig – who discovered the £15,000 cans were actually gold plated brass, valued at just £500 by a jeweller.
I’m guessing across the various promotions (the Wonka style ‘golden can’ in Brewdog orders, the receipt upload promotion across 9 different stores, and the Lost Lager Instagram photo competition) there are around 25 winners of the gold plated £500 cans. I imagine there was also a pretty decent uplift in sales as a result of all the press and in-store promotional material.
ASA rule against Brewdog
Today (October 20) the ASA ruling against Brewdog has finally been published, concluding that the advertising and promotion breached the CAP Code rules on misleading advertising, substantiation and promotional marketing.
What’s frustrating is that the ASA adjudication and interviews with Brewdog focus on the ‘win a solid gold can’ advertising. I never expected the can to be full, solid gold – that would be crazy. But I did expect the hollow can I received to be made of gold, rather than gold plated brass. Its weight is only 265 grams, and at the current price of gold (£41 per gram) that would be worth £11,000, which fits with the £15,000 valuation. Yes, I probably should have taken the can to a jewellers to get it checked, but as I had no intention of selling it, I simply placed it on a shelf to admire! To be honest, I was more amused than annoyed about the ‘gold plated’ reveal – that is, until I saw what Brewdog had planned for their next promotion…
‘The sequel: a gold plated apology’
Yes, the real kick in the teeth for the original can winners is that Brewdog have launched an ‘apology’ promotion today, giving ten winners a diamond-encrusted gold plated can worth £25,000 (or a £25,000 cash equivalent) plus a £5,000 donation to a charity of their choice.
Brewdog have tweeted about their new promotion, but of course there are no terms and conditions linked in the tweet or on the competition landing page (another CAP Code breach), so it looks to be their usual poor standard of communications.
I appreciate this is a classic Brewdog stunt, to turn bad press into a marketing gimmick – but the sheer amount of money spent on this new promotion leaves a sour taste. How can Brewdog justify giving away £300,000 of prizes when the original gold can winners were offered no money at all to compensate for their disappointment?
After several emails to Brewdog in July, I was finally offered a year’s subscription to their beer club as an apology. Of course, I’m one of the luckier winners and have also won £10,000 of shares in Brewdog, but six months after winning, I’ve yet to have any official confirmation of this prize. In the meantime, offering even £1,000 (or a £1,000 donation to charity on my behalf) would have been a nice apologetic gesture and not much of a chunk out of the seemingly bottomless Brewdog marketing budget.
Brewdog of course are famous for their ‘don’t give a shit’ attitude. Sometimes this works in their favour, particularly with some of their excellent marketing stunts. But in June this year when 61 former staff came together to accuse the company of fostering a ‘culture of fear’, they stated that ‘the feeling of disappointment, resentment and sadness is shared by hundreds of people’ who had worked at Brewdog. Boss James Watt made an apology to the staff and promised things would improve – but I’m left wondering if anything has really changed?
It’s not too late for Brewdog to make this right. But they won’t.
Update – I was wrong. Brewdog DID make it right
At 9.37am this morning I received a telephone call from Lauren at Brewdog. She explained that James Watt had made the decision to offer to buy back the gold cans from the original winners for £15,000 each, from his own salary – James also tweeted this news at 9.38am. The winners were emailed at 10.26am:
“While we still stand by our £15,000 valuation due to the exclusivity and rarity of the item, we’re offering to buy the can back off you. That means you can exchange your can for £15,000 which we’ll deposit into your bank.“
Ten minutes later, my £10,000 shares allocation (397 shares) was finally confirmed and added to my Brewdog account too.
I’m delighted for all the winners who have felt so disappointed at the whole debacle.
Although this should have been done back in June, I’m grateful that Brewdog have finally done the right thing. Although I don’t think I’ll bother entering their new prize promotion!