Blog: Andy MortonTables turned as Brewdog attacked

Andy Morton | 8 September 2015

Brewdog, the Scottish brewery with a self-styled “punk” demeanour, prides itself on punching above its weight.

The company is still a relatively small player in the global brewing scene, but its canny ability to cast itself as the underdog speaking right to might has won itself high regard among consumers.

Mocking Russia’s Vladimir Putin in beer form for his anti-gay stance and then sending him a crate; sticking it to the UK's self-regulatory body, the Portman Group, after it reprimanded Brewdog for using “gratuitous” language on its website; taking on Diageo after an awards show bust-up - all are examples of the company's David-versus-Goliath battles.

Last week, however, Brewdog's founders, James Watt and Martin Dickie stood accused of a different form of aggression, in a fight that, for once, they didn't pick.

Thousands have complained about Brewdog's latest advertising video, in which Watt and Dickie attempt to rustle up support for a new crowdfunding campaign. The duo are shown begging in the street and dancing in a red-light-style window wearing women's underwear. These, they say, are all things they wouldn't want to do to raise money.

Their accusers claim the ad ridicules the homeless and transgender people, and have even launched an online petition demanding Brewdog remove the offending footage. So far, almost 7,000 people have signed, including one who said the ad was “about as far removed from the punk ethos as it's possible to get.”

Yes, I understand. Another day, another group of people angry on the Internet. So what's new?

The difference this time is that, instead of punching up, Brewdog stands accused of punching down. Some who signed the petition warned that the bad boys of beer were now flirting with a different reputation - as bullies.

That's a difficult accusation to make stick from the contents of one promotional video. But, Brewdog will likely be more careful in the future when it comes to easy stereotypes.

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