BrewDog vs. Portman

logo-large[1]Here’s one from overseas. One of the fastest growing businesses in Scotland is an innovative, rogue brewery known as BrewDog. In recent years, they have developed various beers that defy convention. The marketing approach for these suds is far out.

BrewDog’s beers have been served from a mounted deer’s head, brewed at the bottom of the ocean, or packaged inside the body of a stuffed squirrel. I am not kidding. These guys have also aged their beer on the deck of a fishing boat, projected themselves naked on the British Parliament buildings as a publicity stunt, and fueled an ‘arms race’ with a German brewer, each attempting to brew the ‘world’s strongest beer’. It started with a beer they named Tactical Nuclear Penguin that had 32% alcohol. I am still not kidding.

The Portman Group is similarly serious. This is an amalgam of the largest alcohol producers in the UK (including Molson-Coors) who have a mandate to responsibly control the marketing of their products (you know – ‘Enjoy Responsibly’ – it’s all over the place).

The Portman Group challenged BrewDog in 2008, claiming that the small brewery had breached their Code of Practice. In turn, BrewDog sued Portman. More can be read on this fight here.

What’s interesting is that alcohol producers formed Portman as a way to police their own industry, in much the same way as alcohol advertisers police themselves here in Ontario. Here, we see only the most extremely offensive ads pulled from circulation. There has to be a better way of regulating alcohol advertising. Perhaps we’ll write a blog on it !

Author: Doug Ironside RN

Doug is a Registered Nurse (PHN) with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

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