Brewdog vs. Diageo = A win for the punks

Brewdog Nottingham
Brewdog Nottingham – Not terribly keen on Carling or Diageo

You may have seen this little story bubbling under over the last week or so but it says an awful lot to me about brands and their respective behaviours.

In brief, Brewdog were at the British Institute of Innkeeping awards and fully expected to win the title of Bar Operator of the Year. They were on the top table and their name was on the trophy. It was that nailed on.

But when the announcement came, it wasn’t Brewdog, but someone else. They were surprised to say the least and when they saw Brewdog’s name on the trophy, rightly refused to accept it.

The independent judges couldn’t believe it had happened, but what did happen.

Well, it appears that Diageo, wanted any winner but Brewdog, so told the local BII team that if they won, they would withdraw any sponsorship in any BII event for the future. Strong arm tactics to say the least, so they panicked and gave the award elsewhere.

But social media has real power these days and the story came out anyway, but so did all the backlash against Diageo.

So what does it say about these brands?

Diageo, is old school. Flawless, never makes mistakes and wants to control every single element of their brand and who it hangs out with. They rather forgot that you don’t decide how your brand is perceived, your customers do. It shows to me the fear they are facing with craft beers, low run, carefully produced products that are worth paying a premium for.

For Brewdog, it can be nothing but good news. Look what happened when Radio One banned the Sex Pistols. It launched them! So the Punk beer brand is banned by the establishment.

I was in Brewdog Nottingham on Saturday afternoon. It was busy, the beer was good. A victory for Punk.

Thanks to Brewdog shareholder Lisa Harlow for telling me about this story.

Brand Beckham and the end of flawless brands

David and Victoria Beckham in leather for the 1999 Versace party
David and Victoria Beckham in leather for the 1999 Versace party

This weekend was a milestone for brands everywhere. One of the strongest – Brand Beckham – admitted they had made a mistake when they wore their matching leather suits to a Versace party in 1999. According to Vogue David  said “I look back on some stuff and think I can’t believe I actually wore that,” he said. “I have no regrets, though – I knew at the time it was good!”

This may not sound too significant at first glance, but I think it is. I really think it is.

In those days, long ago in the life of brands, when glossy and shiny was the norm over today’s more matt black world, brands needed to be flawless. In 2001, this song by The Ones confirmed it.

So what can we learn?

Well, according to, brands now need to show their flaws for their fans to continue to love them. Flawless is no more and brands, flaws and all are where it’s at.

So for me, this move by the Beckham’s only serves to show what a brilliant brand strategy they have been running for years and that it’s an early sign that brands with flaws win.

I’m not sure if I have seen such a seismic shift in brand thinking for years and I think it is so significant a change that it will affect every single brand in the developed world over the coming years.

It’s a big subject, so i’ll be adding more to it soon.

(Thankyou to HolyMoly for the use of the Beckham picture)