BrewDog’s Dead Pony packaging banned

28th April, 2014 by Lauren Eads

Scottish brewer BrewDog has branded the Portman Group a “a gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths” after it banned its Dead Pony Club packaging over its inappropriate association with “bravado and immoderate” consumption.

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The Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) deemed the packaging of the “lower-than-average” strength 3.8% Dead Pony Club pale ale to encourage “anti-social behaviour and rapid drinking”.

The irreverent brewery responded with a sarcastic “formal apology” to the Portman Group for “not giving a sh*t” about today’s ruling or “anything the Portman Group has to say”, and said it would be treating the ICP’s concerns with “callous indifference and nonchalance.”

James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog said: “Unfortunately, the Portman Group is a gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths, funded by navel-gazing international drinks giants. Their raison d’être is to provide a diversion for the true evils of this industry, perpetrated by the gigantic faceless brands that pay their wages. Blinkered by this soulless mission, they treat beer drinkers like brain dead zombies and vilify creativity and competition. Therefore, we have never given a second thought to any of the grubby newspeak they disseminate periodically.”

“While the Portman Group lives out its days deliberating whether a joke on a bottle of beer is responsible or irresponsible use of humour, at BrewDog we will just get on with brewing awesome beer and treating our customers like adults. I’m sure that makes Henry Ashworth cry a salty tear into his shatterproof tankard of directors as he tries to enforce his futile and toothless little marketing code, but we couldn’t give a shit about that, either.”

“We sincerely hope that the sarcasm of this message fits the Portman Group criteria of responsible use of humour,” he added.”

The ICP, which reviewed the packaging as part of its 2012 Code Compliance Audit, said the packaging, which included phrases such as “rip it up down empty streets”, “drink fast, live fast” and “we believe faster is better”, could encourage consumers to drink the product rapidly.

It also said it placed “undue emphasis” on the strength and intoxicating effect of the alcohol linking it with bravado and immoderate consumption.

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, which provides the secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said: “The code rules do not exist to prevent humourous or innovative brand marketing but to make sure that humour is used responsibly.

“We urge producers to exercise due diligence and consult our Code Advisory Team if they are in any doubt.”

Retailers have been issued with instructions not to place orders for stocks of Dead Pony Club in its current packaging after July 8, 2014.

Last week the Scottish brewer opened its first craft beer bottle shop in London. 

6 Responses to “BrewDog’s Dead Pony packaging banned”

  1. Adam S says:

    Interesting, but why did you incorrectly censor “s*hit” and then later fully write “shit”?

  2. Chris M says:

    I think it foolish to attack the Portman Group and call them a gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths. They are there to do a job and prevent heavy handed interference from government. If the likes of Brew Dog want to take the p*ss that may bring unwanted attention on to the industry, why should the rest of us have to suffer?

  3. Sue D says:

    I am surprised at BrewDogs reaction, and they have sunk in my estimation from being an edgy creative business to one which thinks it is above behaving responsibly. The whole of the Drinks Industry is trying to behave resposnibly. Their reaction is more than likely to trigger more stringent regulations which could see all alcohol end up in white packaging.

  4. Neil F says:

    Agreed Brewdog do react strongly to censorship and criticism but you just have to look at some of the Portman Groups previous bans to see how ridiculous they can be. They banned several cocktail mix packages because apparently the name Sex on the Beach contains “either a direct or indirect association with sexual success”, who cares if it is a well established cocktail name. They also banned cans of Kestral Super (9%abv) because it had Super and very strong lager on the label which promoted excessive consumption but on the same day had no problem with Skol Super and Tennent’s Super both at 9% but without very strong lager. I would have though that very strong lager would be a warning required on something this strong.

    Thank you Brewdog for treating people like people and assuming they have common sense and a sense of humor.

  5. Jake says:

    The vendetta against Jody Scheckter and his cottage industry at Laverstoke Park Farm tells me all I need to know about the Portman Group’s MO.

  6. Barry Bolly says:

    If you are incapable of understanding what Brewdog do with their labelling and marketing you probably shouldn’t be drinking alcohol at all and you certainly shouldn’t be censoring anything. You’re average drunken moron will never spend £2 on a decent bottle of beer made by an excellent craft brewery. The big boys are runnign scared.

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