Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and BrewDog plc
Where: United Kingdom
When: 20 October 2021
Law stated as at: 11 November 2021
The Scottish beer brewer BrewDog has found itself in hot water with the ASA after a series of misleading adverts were posted on social media. The ads – posted between November 2020 and February 2021 – offered customers the chance to win a “solid gold, 24-carat” can by finding a solid gold can on BrewDog’s online store.
BrewDog consistently stated that the prize cans were made from “solid gold”. They weren’t – of course – and 25 consumers complained to the ASA and challenged whether the ads were misleading.
In its response to the advertising regulator, BrewDog said that the promotional cans were gold plated and were manufactured using the highest-quality materials, having also provided certification from the manufacturer to confirm each can was platedin 24-carat gold. BrewDog said that its social media posts, which contained the words “solid gold” on multiple occasions, were made in error. It was claimed that each gold can was worth £15,000. James Watt, the chief executive of BrewDog, supported and stood by this valuation, which took into account the price and quality of the metal. However BrewDog did also disclose to the ASA that one standard 330ml can made with pure gold would have had a value of around $500,000 (or £363,000). BrewDog believed that no reasonable consumer would assume that by entering the competition they could win a prize worth half a million dollars, especially as they publicly stated £15,000 as the estimated worth.
The ASA ruled that the ads were misleading and must not appear again in the current form. BrewDog was warned not to state or imply that winners would receive a solid-gold can.
Why this matters:
The ASA considered that the “general audience was unlikely to be aware of the price of gold, how that would translate into the price of a gold can, and whether that was inconsistent with the valuation as stated in the ad.” The ruling provided another warning to promoters that they are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their advertisements/promotions and they must avoid unnecessary disappointment.
The brewer could have done without this latest bout of controversy following previous ASA rulings, as well as allegations made about the company culture.