Brewdog’s ‘beer swap’ stunt imitates mainstream brewers’ marketing campaigns

Brewdog is encouraging consumers to swap “bad” beers produced by big beer firms for a lager it launched this week, copying publicity stunts carried out by, er, big beer firms.

Brewdog is asking lager drinkers to swap in their typical serves for its new product at no extra cost. (Photo: Brewdog)

Titled the “International Bad Beer Amnesty” on Wednesday 12 September BrewDog bars in the UK, Berlin and Brussels, will have a designated ‘Bad Beer Bin’ where visitors can dump their unwanted cans of beer in exchange for a pint of the brewery’s latest lager.

Each person who swaps a can of ‘bad beer’ will be entitled to one free pint of Lost Lager, while the brewing giant will recycle the beers and convert them into renewable biogas.

Founder James Watt said: “For decades, the craft of lager has been lost and forgotten, bastardised by mega breweries putting profit before flavour. But brewed right, lager can pack huge flavour and offer a really exciting style with depth and character.”

The campaign doesn’t go into detail about what constitutes a “bad beer”, but it comes on the heels of an advertisement published in the Metro, comparing reviews of lagers from Budweiser, Fosters, and Carling with its Punk IPA on consumer website RateBeer.

However, this isn’t an original Brewdog campaign. The company tried a similar stunt in 2013, with the launch of a “fake pilsner” on April Fool’s Day.

In fact, the stunt bears a striking resemblance to initiatives launched by mainstream brewers.

“It’s ironic – or arrogant – that it was most likely inspired by the very beer brands they’re trying to get people trading in, Tom Harvey, co-founder of alcohol marketing firm YesMore, told the drinks business.

“The Carling Cold Beer Amnesty in 2008 enabled shoppers to swap warm beer for cold Carling at supermarkets, and Tennent’s did something similar just last year.”

Scottish beer label Tennent’s, owned by C&C Group which also producers Bulmer’s Cider, launched a “beer amnesty” of its own this time last year, which offered drinkers the opportunity to swap Carling tinnies for its own “refreshingly honest” lager in select Scottish bars. It followed the revelation that Carling had reduced the ABV of its beers to 3.7%, instead of the 4% printed on its cans.

So if Brewdog still identifies as a craft brewer, why is it employing the same strategies as “Big Beer”?

Harvey told db that part of the reason lies in the fact that new lagers are notoriously difficult to bring to the market.

“(Lager production is) dominated by the big brands, and it’s hard to break the habits of the vast majority of lager drinkers who have their ‘go to’ lagers.”

“The challenge BrewDog has is that it’s got into a position where it has to continually outdo itself and it’s own marketing – they’ve set the bar, and they’re the ones who’ve got to raise it.”

Provocative stunts may rile the independent brewing industry, he said, but this beer amnesty will “appeal to their existing audience.” the more pressing issue, he added, will be attracting more consumers to the brand.

“Outdoing this with ever more attention grabbing headlines will be even more of a challenge.”

One Response to “Brewdog’s ‘beer swap’ stunt imitates mainstream brewers’ marketing campaigns”

  1. 123 says:

    C&C produce Bulmers?

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