Diageo win Brewdog battle and lose PR war

Being an Irishman, I like beer.  My palate was unfortunately(*) educated some years ago, though, and so the standard Guinness or tasteless-yellow-fizzy-lager just doesn’t do it for me.  Craft beer all the way.

A new favourite, first discovered in my local off-licence at Christmas, is Scottish brewery Brewdog’s beers – Punk IPA is a tasty treat and my better half even enjoys their Trashy Blonde lager.  Their beer is more and more widely available, too, at least in Dublin’s craft beer pubs – Against The Grain, the Black Sheep, WJ Kavanagh’s, Mulligan the Grocers, etc.

Brewdog have been going from strength to strength – and not everyone likes it.  In particular, Diageo – purveyors of tasteless, mass-market stuff such as Guinness and Smirnoff – don’t like it.

So, Diageo – being main sponsors of the BII Scotland Annual Awards – allegedly, immediately before the awards dinner, threatened to pull sponsorship from all future events and not present any awards on the night, if Brewdog won Best Operator award.  No matter what the independent judging panel had already decided.

You can read all about it here.

The recipient of the award refused to accept it – probably a good idea, seeing as it was already engraved with Brewdog’s name.  And Brewdog got wind of what had happened.  And went public with it.

And Twitter heard, and #AndTheWinnerIsNot is now trending (at least in the UK).  So for the sake of a minor press release where Diageo got to say “We sponsored these awards, and look, a Diageo pubchain won one!  Not that craft beer place you wouldn’t like anyway!  Stick with what you know!”, they’ve now earned themselves relative millions in bad publicity and threatened boycotts.  In 2012, it really pays to be seen as the good guy, or failing that, at least “not evil”.  A lesson Diageo would do well to learn.

(*) Unfortunate, because it limits you to the number of pubs/restaurants you can go to for a decent beer.  Although, thankfully, that’s changing, and even regular Dublin pubs will usually have an acceptable weissbeer these days.

Update: And someone at Diageo looked at their @Diageo_News Twitter feed and went “Oh, sh…”.  They’d like to apologise.  Which isn’t the same as actually making an apology, but then I’m a pedant about things like that.