BrewDog rapped for 'misleading solid gold' cans ad campaign

BrewDog is rapped by advertising watchdog for ‘misleading’ customers by giving away beer cans wrongly billed as ‘solid gold’ that it claimed were worth £15K each

  • BrewDog ran a campaign offering drinkers a chance to win a ‘solid gold’ beer can
  • The competition winners were actually offered cans plated with 24k gold instead
  • Watchdog said ads were ‘misleading’ and caused ‘unnecessary disappointment’
  • Brewer has now launched apology campaign offering ‘diamond encrusted’ cans 

Brewdog has been rapped by advertising watchdogs over a competition where customers won beer cans wrongly billed as being made of ‘solid gold’.

The craft brewer launched two promotions where 15 of the cans were hidden inside multi-packs of their beers and they said each was worth £15,000.

However, it turned out the cans were only gold plated and contained a tiny amount of the precious metal.

The Advertising Standards Authority(ASA) launched an investigation after 25 people complained that the prize was not made from solid gold.

Brewdog told the ASA that the ‘solid gold’ claim in three social media posts had been made in error and that they had publicly apologised for it.

However the firm, who are based in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, stood by their estimate that the winning cans were worth £15,000.

BrewDog has been rapped by the advertising watchdog after posting ads on social media (pictured) stating customers could win solid gold cans when in fact the prizes were gold plated

The adverts (pictured) were ruled as misleading and have been banned with the watchdog stating they ’caused unnecessary disappointment’ for participants of the competition

The advertising watchdog has now banned the adverts, which were posted in November 2020 and February this year, and said they breached the Advertising Code by making misleading claims.

It comes after the company has faced heavy criticism this year after a letter from ex-workers complained about the workplace environment at the brewing giant.

In June the brewer was accused of perpetuating a ‘culture of fear’ in the workplace by former staff. Mr Watt apologised and pledged to launch an investigation into the claims. 

In a written ruling, the ASA said: ‘Each of the ads (a), (b) and (c) stated that the prize included a ‘solid gold’ can. Ad (a) also stated the can was ‘worth £15K’.

‘We considered a general audience was unlikely to be aware of the price of gold, how that would translate into the price of a gold can, and whether that was inconsistent with the valuation as stated in the ad.

‘However, we understood the prize consisted of 24 carat gold-plated replica cans. 

BrewDog was founded by Martin Dickie and James Watt (pictured) and has faced criticism from ex-workers over allegations the company fostered a ‘culture of fear’ as a workplace

BrewDog was founded by Martin Dickie and James Watt (pictured) and has faced criticism from ex-workers over allegations the company fostered a ‘culture of fear’ as a workplace

‘Therefore, because the ads stated that the prize included a ‘solid gold’ can when that was not the case, we concluded the ads were misleading.

‘We considered that because the awarded prize was not the same as that described in the ads, the promotion caused unnecessary disappointment to participants and therefore breached the Code.

‘We told BrewDog not to state or imply that consumers would receive a solid gold can when that was not the case.

‘We also told them to conduct their promotions equitably and fairly, and to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.’

Mark Craig, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, was among fans of the brewery who snapped up cases of its flagship beer, Punk IPA, to find one of the gold versions inside.

The 32-year-old, who had hoped to fund his wedding by selling the gold, discovered the can was only plated with the metal after asking for a certificate from Brewdog.

Winner Mark Craig (pictured) was hoping to use the prize to help pay off some bills and for his upcoming wedding but was disappointed when he discovered the can was not solid gold

Pictured: Winner Mark Craig’s gold plated can among his other BrewDog beer cans at home

Speaking in June, he said: ‘I ultimately feel disappointed. When I won I was ecstatic, believing a solid gold can could contribute towards bills and our wedding, which has been postponed until 2022.’

BrewDog said the promotional cans were gold plated and were manufactured by goldsmiths Thomas Lyte using materials of the highest quality.

They provided a certificate from the manufacturer to confirm the cans were plated in 24 carat gold.

They said that they amended the posts as soon as that error was noticed. However, they explained they were unable to amend tweets and therefore rather than delete the tweet, they ensured that subsequent tweets dropped the word ‘solid’, and all references thereafter were to ‘gold cans’.

The company claimed a single 330ml can, made with the equivalent 330ml of pure gold, would have a gold value of about $500,000 at the current gold price of $1,800 per ounce.

They said they could not see ‘that any reasonable consumer who entered the competition would assume they were going to win over half a million dollars of gold’. 

In response to the ruling, BrewDog launched a new competition offering customers a chance to win diamond encrusted cans, calling the campaign The Sequel: A Gold Plated Apology

The firm said they had never been provided with a valuation which contradicted their estimated value.

Brewdog, which has been valued at up to £1 billion, was founded in 2007 by James Watt and Martin Dickie. 

Brewdog responded to the ruling by announcing they were launching a new competition giving people the chance to win one of 10 diamond encrusted gold plated cans.

They said winners will have the option of claiming a can worth £25,000, or they can take £25,000 in cash if they prefer.

James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said: ‘We hold our hands up, we got the first gold can campaign wrong.

‘Whilst we still stand by the valuation, we made mistakes which we’ve learnt from.

‘And now we want to give ten lucky people the chance to win big – way, way bigger than before.

‘It’ll be a short campaign over ten days, and we’ll contact a new winner each day to let them know they’ve won.’

Previous winner Mr Craig, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, criticised the company’s apology, which he said appeared to be encouraging people to buy more beer in a ‘new competition run correctly this time’.

He told MailOnline: ‘I’m baffled that they believe this is an acceptable apology. I haven’t been contacted by them directly at all.

‘It’s now a case of them saying their apology is encouraging people to buy more beer, and they promise to do it right this time, without actually apologising to the people who the previous competition screwed over’. 

This is the second time this year that the brewing giant has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority.

BrewDog was censured by the ASA in July after it used its marketing to mock the fact that it is not officially allowed to describe its hard seltzer – Clean & Press Hard Seltzer – as healthy.

On Instagram, it wrote: ‘Even though Clean & Press is only 90 calories per can, with no carbs or sugar and a little bit of alcohol, this is not a health drink. If you are looking for a health drink, do not drink Clean & Press.’

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