Brewer under fire

BrewDog backlash over branding and expenses claim

Punk AF

Original concept for Punk AF and the launch design

BrewDog boss James Watt is at the centre of a Twitter storm after being accused of taking other people’s ideas and not paying for them.

The company’s former branding agency said the brewer’s new alcohol free brand used a concept they had developed and had been rejected.

The north east brewer has just unveiled its Punk AF brand with an advertising campaign that includes banners on London buses.

Alex Myers founder of Manifest claims his team created the brand during its nine-year relationship with BrewDog but the idea had been knocked back. The two companies ended their link in March, bringing an end to an era of memorable and often controversial marketing campaigns.

Myers told The Drum magazine: “The idea is clearly derived from our pitch. We created a branding proposal for ‘soft beers’. Our central idea was Punk AF, a strategy based on the challenges of the category and the opportunities for BrewDog. However, they said they were going in another direction.”

Myers claims to have informed BrewDog of the similarities between the concepts back in January 2019 but had received “no response”.

Despite his frustration he insisted there was no animosity towards BrewDog. “This isn’t a ‘bust up’ and I’m not angry. It was just the right thing to do to flag it,” he said.

“We worked with BrewDog for nine years and we’re proud of our work together. This isn’t about a bust-up or villainising anyone, it’s about honesty and the value of creative work.”

Nevertheless, the agency is pursuing payment for its role in the product’s inception and the row prompted criticism of the company on Twitter.

BrewDog co-founder James Watt tweeted to Mr Myers with an image from the Manifest concept and one of the new design. “Not really, the same,” he said.

Outrage over expenses

In the US a job candidate hit back after Mr Watt challenged her expenses claim for sharing her ideas with the firm.

Mr Watt has now found himself in a Twitter dispute with the candidate after she filed a claim for more than $4,000.

The BrewDog co-founder published the list of claims which included $3,125 spent preparing documents, $690.60 for a flight to its brewery in Columbus and time spent on Skype.

Mr Watt, pictured, said on Twitter: “Have you ever charged a company for preparing for & attending an interview? An unsuccessful candidate recently submitted to us a hefty invoice for their time during a job application process. We refused to pay (other than transport). The internet went into meltdown.”

The interview took place in 2017 and the candidate Jenny Frankart, said she only came forward after learning about the Manifest dispute.

The row divided opinion, with some supporting his stand and others questioning the company’s business practices.

James Watt BrewDog

One noted that the candidate involved “claimed BrewDog fobbed her off after saying they would cover certain costs.”

Another said: “Brewdog have stolen marketing ideas on numerous occasions, including requesting I travel around presenting them ideas under the impression I had a job.”

Mr Watt responded: “God stop having a go at me for not paying her invoice!”

Others took to Twitter saying: “It they’re so great at marketing why do they keep interviewing marketing pros, not hiring anyone, and then rolling out their “own ideas” which are remarkably similar to the ones presented a few months later?”

“Love your beer (mostly, Indie?) and what you’ve done to the industry. But please answer… Have you been stealing marketing ideas from marketing professionals whom you’ve been interviewing? Because they’re giving very convincing arguments…

Watt job expenses list

“You represent a $2b company so this is incredibly petty and egomaniacal. Have some class, pay what you owe, and act like a mature adult.”

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