It’s a kind of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tale without the happy ending.
You may remember the children’s story: the dream of winning a golden ticket and a lifetime supply of chocolate is far from straightforward, thanks to eccentric and ruthless factory owner, Willy Wonka. He placed golden tickets in five of his chocolate bars and sales rocketed.
BrewDog, the Ellon-headquartered drinks company, have adopted Willy’s idea. The north-east brewery offered 10 people the chance to find a “solid gold” can – said to be worth £15,000 – hidden in a case of its beer.
Except the cans were merely gold-plated and valued at around five hundred quid, leaving winners like Adam Dean, from Shropshire, feel like proper Charlies and complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
BrewDog’s most recent PR disaster
It’s the most recent PR disaster for BrewDog and comes on top of others that have made Matt Hancock’s little problem seem insignificant. But when you build an organisation based initially on headline-grabbing – and hugely successful – publicity, any slip-up and you’re under the cosh.
We’ve hidden 5 Gold Lost Lager cans in 5 cities around the world. Today the hunt begins!
Find the secret location with @what3words from 13:30.
Thurs: Berlin (announced at 6pm)
Fri: Columbus, Ohio
— BrewDog (@BrewDog) May 31, 2021
Soon, we’ll find out what the ASA make of it, while BrewDog and one of its founders, James Watt – the company’s “face” – say the use of the term “solid gold” was a mistake. Oops! However, it stands by its £15,000 claim and says the estimate was made up of more than just the metal used.
Convinced or confused?
Mr Dean could be forgiven for viewing BrewDog bosses as Willy Wonkas because he feels swicked, especially as his “golden ticket” won him a brass can with gold plating, according to the makers of the containers.
ASA might advise them to ‘ca’ canny’
Meanwhile, BrewDog’s “we made an error” statement to Mr Dean won’t cut it with him. He should have read the small print, is the basis of the drinks firm’s argument in a potentially messy issue, hard on the heels of the abysmal publicity that surrounded allegations by former employees who had “suffered mental illness as a result of working at BrewDog”.
If the ASA label James Watt the Willy Wonka of this story, BrewDog could be £150,000 out of pocket
They accused the company of fostering a culture where staff were afraid to voice concerns. Mr Watt has already admitted all hasn’t been well on that score and apologised for the pain caused to ex-workers.
If the ASA label him the Willy Wonka of this story and the nine other “golden can” winners join Mr Dean in bringing it to their attention, BrewDog could be £150,000 out of pocket with concerned shareholders suggesting they “ca’ canny” on all future PR boasts.
As Willy sang in the musical version of the story: “Travelling in the world of my creation, what we’ll see will defy explanation.”