A Tale Of Two Tweets (And A Facebook Post)

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A Tale Of Two Tweets (And A Facebook Post)

Key Contact: Declan Goodwin

Author: John Tay

After more than two years since Brewdog PLC’s (unfortunately) misleading advertisement campaign, James Watt, CEO recently announced that he personally paid approximately £470,000 in compensation to winners of the “solid gold” beer can promotion.

What Happened?

Between November 2020 and March 2021, Brewdog announced in three separate advertisements that they had hidden “solid gold” cans of their beers (worth roughly £15,000 each) in packs of their Punk IPA and Hazy Jane beer.

Despite Brewdog’s attempts at rectifying their mistake, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 25 complaints stating that Brewdog’s advertisements were misleading.

Brewdog explained that due to a miscommunication between their marketing and social media teams, an old version of the advertisements was used. They also contended that a reasonable consumer would not have assumed that they were going to win over half a million dollars of gold, especially since Brewdog had already announced that the value of each can was only worth roughly £15,000.

The complaints were ultimately upheld on the basis that because the awarded prize was not the same as that described in the advertisements, the promotion caused unnecessary disappointment to participants and therefore breached the CAP Code.

Lessons to be learnt

Falling foul of advertising laws and regulations has serious consequences for any business.

“We were made to look dishonest and disingenuous and we took a real hammering online and in the press. Deservedly so. My initial tweets had been misleading and we deserved the flak. What was looking like one of the best campaigns in our history was now, decidedly, the worst.”

James Watt, 2023. LinkedIn post (Accessed 20th January 2023)

In addition to bad publicity, loss of reputation and brand damage, businesses could also face:

  1. Referral to the Trading Standards Services, possible court action and criminal prosecution.
  2. Legal action by competitors or consumers.
  3. Inability to get advertising space.
  4. Costly recall of advertising material and reprinting of advertising.
  5. Wasted media space.
  6. Product recalls.

Our Commercial and Technology team has experience in helping businesses remain compliant with advertising laws, particularly those in the alcohol industry. If you have any questions, we would be happy to help.

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