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  • Emily Hoong

Anti-Brand of the Week: BrewDog SAD AF

Happy Friday everyone,

We’ve noticed that some brands have launched campaigns with values that perhaps isn’t very consistent with the way they have been acting…so here’s to a spin off series: Anti-brand of the week!

This week our focus is on BrewDog. They launched their SAD AF campaign in January, encouraging people to talk about their mental health challenges, especially during winter blues. But are the values of this campaign aligned with who they truly are? Let’s take a look...

What is this campaign about?

84% of those who experience mental health challenges say January is the worst month – this is possibly the case because of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – and 82% of men say they are more likely to open up with friends and family over a drink. I Am Whole, a mental health charity and Brewdog partnered up with the aim of raising awareness of SAD and to encourage men to speak about their mental health. To do this responsibly while creating the right setting for people to open up, Brewdog created a new product – an alcohol-free beer

The launch of this new product was accompanied by a video ad:

What values does this campaign enable?

The primary goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of and fight against mental health challenges – not an easy task at all. Although it’s a big goal, one that will require lots of effort and time, Brewdog’s commitment to this ambition is clear as all profits from this campaign will go to creating one of the biggest research projects on men’s mental health.

The campaign aims to get people to open up, to speak to each other and to show kindness. In doing so, it destigmatises and challenges taboos around mental health. The product itself being alcohol-free is also an act of love – giving an option to those who are suffering from mental health challenges the option to choose wisely while enabling the right atmosphere for people to open up comfortably

This isn’t the first time Brewdog has rejected conformity though – the central principle of BrewDog is anti-corporation and anti big-brewery (they call themselves ‘punks’). They stopped stocking Lagunitas and Beavertown when Heineken bought them out. But how can we trust that they truly reject conformity when BrewDog’s co-founder James Watt holds owns £500,000 of shares in Heineken? 😲

Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. There has been a lot of negative press around BrewDog’s operation and James Watts’ uncomfortable and unacceptable behaviour around women. There are several reports of toxic work environment, culture of fear, and bullying. This seems to really speak against the value of Benevolence.

How important is it that brands are consistent with their values? Important I would say…BrewDog has a very strong fanbase – people love the anti-corporation message, adore the passion they have for craft beer and enjoy the community feeling that BrewDog has carefully cultivated. But affinity for this brand feels to be falling apart slowly as allegations put a spotlight on the differences between what they say and who they are.

Thanks for reading,


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