And so to BrewDog, and its first ad campaign since former staff claimed the firm fostered a “culture of fear” in which they were bullied and “treated like objects” and left “burnt out, afraid and miserable”.
How do you follow that? Why you completely ignore it of course. After all, advertising’s job is to big up brands and sell shedloads not fanny around with other stuff (and you don’t want to get on the wrong side of Steve Harrison again do you?).
Cue the write-up from BrewDog’s new ad agency, Droga5, which insists that through this campaign the brand demonstrates that it “defies convention in the way it brews its beer” by focusing on its “credentials as the world’s first carbon-negative brewery”.
Aw, how sweet. They might have once been bullies but they were – and still are – saving the planet, you know.
Designed to position BrewDog as a brand for the people, the TV ad comprises short video clips and stills of drinkers, as the voiceover states: “BrewDog makes beer. But not just beer for laughing hipsters or clichéd father-son moments.”
Instead, apparently, BrewDog is here for all the weird and wonderful people in the world. These include “meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegetarians that lie”, “people who believe in aliens, in god, in nothing”, “people with dogs that sort of hate them”, “shoplifters”, “guys who almost certainly own a snake”, and “Chiara Davis, who’s working at a funfair until she works out what she wants to do with her life”.
Some scenes feature people explicitly ignoring the product or actively rejecting it. The key message is that BrewDog operates in a way that helps keep the planet alive – whether you drink BrewDog beer or not.
After the list concludes, the film introduces BrewDog’s status as the world’s first carbon-negative brewery, thanks to its practice of planting trees – “making it a better world for everyone who drinks BrewDog; and even those who don’t”.
The TV ad is supported by OOH and print ads which reinforce BrewDog’s ecological message, under the headline “The Planet’s Favourite Beer”.
The production of all assets in the campaign has naturally been offset through tree planting schemes, making it a sustainable campaign in every sense. As part of Droga5 London’s commitment to sustainability, each member of the agency has been granted Lost Forest citizenship and committed to planting a tree in the Forest. Lucky them.
BrewDog brand and marketing director Lauren Carrol enthused: “The new campaign reinforces BrewDog’s commitment to having a positive impact, both on our diverse audience and the planet. We’re proud to be a beer for all and to serve our amazing global community. As a carbon-negative brewery, every beer that is enjoyed around the world can have a positive planetary impact.”
Droga5 London chief creative officer David Kolbusz added: “When you run a carbon-negative brewery, it isn’t just the beer drinkers who benefit. It’s everyone on earth. This reductive equation became the starting point for a campaign we’re enormously proud of. We went about listing everyone we thought would see an upside from BrewDog’s environmental efforts. Our original cut was five hours long.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?
Well, to be fair, the ad does what it sets out to do. In fact, if you didn’t know that BrewDog was being operated under such a toxic culture then you might think that it was a half-decent company.
Whether by broadening its target market to just about everyone in the world BrewDog will be able to shake off its not inconsiderable baggage is another matter.
Then again, do beer drinkers really give a shit as long as they can have a decent pint?
Decision Marketing Adometer: A “sup up your beer and collect your fags” 7 out of 10