ASA calls Brewdog promotion misleading
Back in July when the Daily Mail asked PromoVeritas what was wrong with the Brewdog ‘Solid Gold Can’ promotion we said it was “a case of excellent creative concept being let down by sloppy execution…” The Advertising Standards Authority must have agreed with our opinion because they have now ruled that three adverts for the promotion were misleading. Jorja Knight, Head of Legal, at PromoVeritas takes a closer look at the events.
Last November Brewdog offered shoppers the chance to find gold cans hidden in their online store but once the winners started complaining to the press and the ASA that their solid gold can prizes were actually only gold-plated, the publicity stunt started looking a lot less shiny. In fact, the advertising watchdog received 25 complaints because Brewdog’s posts on Facebook and Twitter gave the impression that the prize cans were made from solid gold.
Brewdog responded to the ASA that the cans were gold plated rather than being made out of solid gold, but the social media posts contained this error because of a miscommunication between marketing and social teams. Their response to the complaints also insisted that because a solid gold can would be worth around $500,000 it was reasonable to assume that shoppers would realise that they weren’t winning this, and instead winning a £15,000 can. The ASA flatly concluded that because the ads stated that the prize included a ‘solid gold’ can when that was not the case, they were in fact misleading.
The ASA’s ruling also found that Brewdog had breached the CAP Code because of the unnecessary disappointment they caused participants. Di Coke, one of the winners said “I never expected the can to be full, solid gold – that would be crazy. But I did expect the hollow can I received to be made of gold, rather than gold plated brass”. In the end James Watt, Brewdog’s CEO, publicly announced that he would buy the cans back off of the winners and has since deposited £15,000 into their bank accounts.
Watt also used the publicity to launch a new ‘apology’ promotion giving away ten diamond-encrusted, gold-plated cans worth £25,000 – and upon careful inspection this prize draw also has compliance issues!
This could all have been avoided in a number of ways;
- Back up your claims – when it comes to prize valuations promoters must be able to corroborate their claims from the offset – a good legal team drafting the Terms & Conditions and reviewing marketing communications would have spotted this ahead of time.
- Check that social posts match the T&Cs – Brewdog admitted that the mistake was caused by miscommunication between their teams and all too often we see social media posts for promotions that are inaccurate, contrary, or as in this case, exaggerate what is on offer to the entrant. Again, have copy checked over by a legal team to ensure it is not misleading.
- Award prizes properly – although now the winners have all been fully compensated by Brewdog, it took an ASA Ruling and a lot of bad press to get there. Always ensure prize winners receive their winnings promptly, and where there’s a problem keep the lines of communication open.
- Careful prize placement – The promotion also received bad press because customers complained that their cases of beer had been tampered with during delivery – to find the winning cans. Our team have organised the logistics for ‘Willy Wonka’ style promotions like this for nearly 20 years. We are experts at controlled prize placement and advising clients on how to keep high-value prizes like these gold cans free from the risk of tampering or cheating.
Once again Brewdog are in the news for disregarding the rules and having a cavalier attitude towards the public. Although Brewdog fulfilled their obligation to consumers in the end, they had to be forced into a corner to do so and it came at a price. Keeping on the straight and narrow when running promotions is not that difficult, and the results are always effective and exciting promotions that the public will want to enter time and time again.