Blog: Diageo's "dirty trick" brews up a Twitter storm

James Wilmore | 10 May 2012

One of BrewDog

One of BrewDog's understated PR 'episodes'

There really is nowhere to hide on Twitter. Particularly when you're a global corporation and you've been caught with your pants down, metaphorically speaking, by a notoriously PR-savvy independent brewer.

Step forward Diageo, the latest giant to feel the wrath of Tweeters.

Late yesterday, the company's name was trending – and not for the kind of reasons it would hope.

It came after maverick Scottish brewer BrewDog accused the drinks firm of intervening to stop them winning 'Bar Operator of the Year' at an awards ceremony in Scotland.

Apparently BrewDog got the judges' vote, but a (probably now former) representative of Diageo, sponsors of the awards, intervened to stop the brewer bagging the title.

Diageo has since owned up, offering this mea culpa: 

 “There was a serious misjudgement by Diageo staff at the awards dinner on Sunday evening in relation to the Bar Operator of the Year Award, which does not reflect in anyway Diageo’s corporate values and behaviour. 

“We would like to apologise unreservedly to BrewDog and to the British Institute of Innkeeping for this error of judgement and we will be contacting both organisations imminently to express our regret for this unfortunate incident.”

Bad timing as well, as Diageo CEO Paul Walsh this week addressed the Ethical Corporation's Responsible Business Summit.  

From our sources, we understand it is likely the Diageo representative involved went 'rogue' on the night and the incident points more to a personal grudge, rather than company-wide ill-feeling towards Brewdog. The Scottish brewer produces some fine craft beers, but nothing that would obviously worry Diageo. 

Strangely though, the whole hoo-ha, while no doubt gutting for the staff at Brewdog's shortlisted bar, has been a PR win for the indie brewer. 

As someone going under the name Flat Caps Coffee tweeted earlier : “Diageo do @brewdog a MASSIVE PR favour! Prob better than winning the award would have”

While earlier, BrewDog lamented the fact on its official Twitter feed that Diageo was trending instead of their company name. 

It's a funny old game.


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