Agency: Manifest London
BrewDog is a Scottish-based craft beer brewer that launched in 2006 and prides itself on pushing limits and challenging conventions. Its strategy is to inspire fans to unite behind a common cause, engage existing and potential customers with compelling content and to tell the BrewDog story in its own indomitable style.
The Sochi Winter Olympics in February 2014 provided an appropriate hook. BrewDog produced the world’s first protest beer Hello, My Name Is Vladimir. The beer satirised Russia’s anti-gay laws, declaring in its marketing materials that it was not for gays, but was instead for ‘uber hetero men who ride horses while topless and carrying knives’.
And the accompanying press release featured an image of BrewDog co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie mimicking a famous photo of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin riding a horse topless. The launch also signalled BrewDog’s support for LGBT communities, and the brewer pledged to donate 50 per cent of all profits to international human rights charities.
The beer’s label was designed with an Andy Warhol style image of Putin wearing make up, with the Not for gays slogan, which was also turned into a successful hashtag for the campaign.
The label also declared I am 100% hetero and will pass laws to prove it, warning that the drink may contain traces of sarcasm and protest.
A case of the beer was posted to ‘The Kremlin, care of Vladimir Putin’ while another was delivered to Russian embassies in London and Edinburgh, providing shareable video and photo content for social media.
The campaign generated 114 pieces of coverage across international media, including the Washington Times and an article on the front page of the Moscow Times. The beer also featured on BBC and Sky News.
Within a week of launch, there had been more than 5,000 online mentions and #NotForGays was retweeted more than 4,000 times, became the number one trending topic on Facebook and Twitter UK as well as trending globally.
The beer sold 5,000 bottles in 24 hours, and was completely sold out in two weeks. Traffic to BrewDog’s online store increased by 856 per cent, and the brewer received invitations to open bars in Moscow.
‘This was a fantastic campaign that achieved so much for just £4,000,’ said one judge. ‘It makes me wonder what my consumer agency is doing!’
Another said: ‘Superb, innovative, creative, cheeky, refreshing. Absolutely brilliant.’ Viewed as one of the stand-out campaigns of this year’s entries, judges were still discussing its creativity weeks after they first met. The campaign also featured heavily in discussions about the Grand Prix, where it was narrowly pipped to the trophy.