BrewDog head back to basics with new marketing campaign

We start Customer Experiences with Soul with a look at the meaning of the word ‘soul’ in business. We close chapter one with the following remarks:

One of the greatest challenges for any company wishing to grow is the continued nurturing of its soul, the very reason for its early success. In chapter four therefore we look at how BrewDog recognised this very issue and sought to capture more formally the essence of their being in their Be More BrewDog charter.

However, for Maria and I we have not loved every single one of BrewDog’s early shock-marketing tactics. Hence in chapter two we quote James Watt, one of BrewDog’s co-founders, writing that:

Watt understands the brand as a phenomenon which is experienced, and in this sense he is not separating brand from reputation intellectually. He is alert to the extremely fine line BrewDog must tread between irreverent and irresponsible, and at times some of their marketing campaigns have been seen by people as having overstepped the mark, in poor taste and lacking in wisdom.

We wrote our book in 2016, and at the time BrewDog were entering into a new phase of expansion. We continued with our analysis of BrewDog in the following section:

Brands need time and space to mature, as do the people running the businesses. Mistakes will certainly be made, and BrewDog have made many by their own admission. It is the response and an ability to learn from mistakes which have always made the difference and will always continue to do so. In BrewDog we find an extremely successful brand in which there is a very high degree of coherence between what they say, what they mean and what they do.

In chapter five we will be examining human values which include non-violence and righteousness. Non-violence can refer to acts of violence within advertising images, and this is where BrewDog can still develop themselves further, elevating themselves to ever greater expressions of who they are, using humour in an irreverent manner but which avoids the need to shock.

It was really interesting to read the latest article from BrewDog this week titled BrewDog The Next Generation. In this article they discuss their journey from being just two people and one dog, to the international brewery they are today:

As a business we have had a pretty crazy ride since we started with 2 humans and a dog in 2007 when pretty much no one in the UK even knew what craft beer was let alone wanted to talk about it or drink it. It was quite literally us against the world. And our only option to stay alive and stay in business long enough to have an impact was to make sure the world stopped and took notice. This feisty, scrappy underdog mentality is ingrained in our DNA.

Our mission has always been unwavering since day 1. To make other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are, and this is the constant yardstick by which we measure ourselves. Over our first decade the only way for us to compete with companies 10,000 times our size and with 100,000 times our marketing budget was high octane shock tactics which were often quite very close to the edge.

In this article BrewDog explain how their more wilder, younger days are now behind them, as they mature and move into a new era for them:

From The End of History, Hello my Name is Vladimir, Fat Cats, to Never Mind the Anabolics we were able to grow our brand and put craft beer on the national agenda despite being a tiny company with pretty much zero marketing spend.

As a company we haven’t been quick enough to realise that we have now built the platform we need to engage and excite people about craft beer and we no longer need to try and wrap things up in crazy stunts to make our voice heard. We are now a bigger company, a bigger employer and a bigger community than we used to be, and with that comes an increased responsibility.

The first example of this newer maturity is BrewDog’s major new UK marketing campaign which launches this week.

Credit: BrewDog

Watt announced this campaign personally to the BrewDog Equity Punks investor forum in the following way:

Hey Everyone,

Just a heads up that we have a pretty major ad campaign launching tomorrow.

We are refocusing our marketing lens to aim more accurately on the things we care about most; our beer, and our people. In tomorrow’s campaign, it is all about the beer. And specifically, quality.

The campaign presents a direct comparison between our flagship beer, Punk IPA, and our biggest global competitors. The way we’ve done this is to take their respective scores on Ratebeer – the world’s biggest consumer ratings platform for beer – and show how much of a chasm there is in the perception of these beers. I’ll let you guess which comes out on top…

Should be an interesting day tomorrow. This is a campaign that has been in the pipeline for a while.


BrewDog explained their new Your Call campaign in their latest press release:

RateBeer is an online global community of hundreds of thousands of beer loving humans who critique, evaluate and then score beers. The scores are then processed through an algorithm to produce a total rating out of 100. The closer a beer gets to that perfect triple-digit tally, the better it is. It’s that simple.

In the eyes of the beer industry, RateBeer is the biggest consumer-driven focus group out there. With members in over a hundred countries, these guys know their shit when it comes to beer.

From today, you may spot a series of adverts in the wild, showcasing how our flagship beer, Punk IPA, rates against some of the biggest beer brands in the world. Craft beer is still less than 4% of the UK beer market. That means over 96% of beer drinkers are choosing mainstream macro brands over craft beer.

Our intention with the campaign that you’ll see from today, is to highlight the difference in quality and taste between craft and mass market beers, as we continue on our mission to make other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are.

The campaign has already received many positive comments from the Equity Punk community:

Very visible in Glasgow Central this morning. Just showed it to a non-beer drinking colleague and he liked it.

Great idea. Back to basics and showing what the company does best.

I think this is a much better idea for advertising as opposed to more controversial “shock tactics.”

As we observe in Customer Experiences with Soul, “those companies which are fully authentic are ones in which there is no separation between the customer experience and the company itself. Which companies are truly fully authentic? The ones who are bloody-minded. The ones with an unwavering rock solid belief in their missions and visions. You do not add on purpose to a pre-existing product; you live your purpose with passion, and this is what customers connect with”.

I think it is great to see BrewDog now demonstrating this level of self-awareness that many other brands and organisations still lack, no matter how worthy their causes. It will be interesting to see what the overall impact of this campaign is. With BrewDog’s fifth Equity for Punks crowdfunding campaign having currently raised almost £21 million, BrewDog are certainly managing to grow while stay true to their roots, philosophy and indeed humour, which still remains, but just in a more crafted and conscious way.

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