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Brewdog criticised for ‘misleading’ solid gold beer cans ads

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On Twitter, Brewdog admitted it had 'messed up'. Photo: Reuters
On Twitter, Brewdog admitted it had 'messed up'. Photo: Reuters

A Brewdog ad campaign that claimed customers could win a beer can made of solid gold was deemed to be misleading by the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), with the potential to cause "unnecessary disappointment".

The craft beer brewer had posted tweets and a Facebook post that said users could win “10 solid gold” IPA cans worth £15,000 ($20,663), which were hidden in its 12-packs. The cans were in reality gold plated rather than made from gold.

The first tweet, posted in November last year, included text which stated “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."

It said "winners receive a gold can worth £15K, 10K of BrewDog shares & VIP tour of our Brewery”. The post included the image of a gold-coloured can of BrewDog Punk IPA.

Twenty-five people complained to the ASA, stating the prize was not made from “solid gold”, and challenging whether the ads were misleading.

The ASA has deemed that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

“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.”

Read more: Craft beer brewer BrewDog accused of being 'cult of personality' with a 'culture of fear'

According to the ASA, BrewDog said its social media posts which contained the words “solid gold” did so in error.

They said that they amended the posts as soon as that error was noticed, which was caused by a miscommunication between its marketing and social media teams.

BrewDog accepted that it should not have used the word “solid” in its initial tweets and it has apologised publicly for doing so. On Twitter, it said it had "messed up".

Brewdog stated that 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/ounce and that it “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, particularly when they gave a rough estimate for the value of the can of £15,000.”

But ASA’s assessment declared that 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.

“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,” it concluded.

Brewdog was also embroiled in controversy earlier this year when more than 100 former employees wrote an open letter accusing the company of being “a cult of personality” and detailing an alleged toxic environment.

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