Two tweets and a Facebook post from BrewDog:
a. The first tweet, posted on 12 November 2020, included text which stated “Dear People Of The World, 10 solid gold Punk IPA cans are hidden in Punk 12-packs which will ship from our online shop over the next 4 weeks. Winners receive a gold can worth £15K, 10K of BrewDog shares & VIP tour of our Brewery”. The post included the image of a gold-coloured can of BrewDog Punk IPA.
b. The second tweet, posted on 15 February 2021, included text which stated “The hunt for the gold can is on” and “We’ve hidden 5 gold wrapped cans in 12, 24 and 48-packs of Hazy Jane on our online store. Find the wrapped can and you can claim a solid gold, 24-carat one!”. The post included the image of a gold coloured can of BrewDog Hazy Jane around which a ring of text stated “YOU’RE SO GOLDEN”.
c. The Facebook post, posted on 15 February 2021, included text which stated “The hunt for the gold can is on”, “We’ve hidden 5 gold-wrapped cans in 12, 24 and 48-packs of Hazy Jane on our online store. Find the wrapped can and you can claim a solid gold, 24-carat one!” and “The real gold cans are tracked, monitored and delivered by an armoured drone fitted with the latest anti-pillage technology, probably”.
IssueTwenty-five complainants, who understood that the prize was not made from “solid gold”, challenged whether the ads were misleading.
BrewDog plc said the promotional cans were gold plated and were manufactured by Thomas Lyte, one of the most reputable goldsmiths in the world, using materials of the highest quality. They provided a certificate from the manufacturer to confirm the cans were plated in 24 carat gold.
BrewDog said the cans were gold plated rather than solid gold, and that their social media posts which contained the words “solid gold” did so in error. They said that they amended the posts as soon as that error was noticed. However, they explained they were unable to amend Tweets and therefore rather than delete the Tweet, they ensured that subsequent Tweets dropped the word “solid”, and all references thereafter were to “gold cans”.
BrewDog said that when they launched the campaign for the Hazy Jane gold cans, the error was repeated and initial posts contained the words “solid gold”. They said that appeared to have been due to a miscommunication between their marketing and social media teams where an old version of the post was used for the new campaign. BrewDog said they amended the posts on social media other than on Twitter because they were unable to amend those posts, as previously explained. They said that they had put more robust measures in place to ensure that such an error was not repeated.
BrewDog accepted they should not have used the word “solid” in their initial Tweets and they said they had apologised publicly for doing so. However, they said that a single 330ml can, made with the equivalent 330ml of pure gold, would have a gold value of about $500,000 at the current gold price of $1,800/ounce. They said that did not include the cost of manufacture, which would be vast, as a specific cast-iron mould would need to be manufactured. Therefore, BrewDog could not see that any reasonable consumer who entered the competition would assume they were going to win over half a million dollars of gold, particularly when they gave a rough estimate for the value of the can of £15,000. BrewDog said they had never been provided with a valuation which contradicted their estimated value.
The ASA understood that ad (a), and ads (b) and (c) referred to two separate promotions, where consumers could purchase BrewDog Punk IPA or Hazy Jane to enter a prize promotion. Each of the ads (a), (b) and (c) stated that the prize included a “solid gold” can. Ads (b) and (c) stated that the can was “24-carat”. We considered consumers would therefore understand from ads (b) and (c) that the prize included a replica Punk IPA or Hazy Jane can made from solid gold. Ad (a) also stated the can was “worth £15K”. We considered a general audience was unlikely to be aware of the price of gold, how that would translate into the price of a gold can, and whether that was inconsistent with the valuation as stated in the ad. We considered consumers would also understand from ad (a) that the prize included a replica Hazy Jane can made from solid gold.
However, we understood the prize consisted of 24 carat gold-plated replica cans. Therefore, because the ads stated that the prize included a “solid gold” can when that was not the case, we concluded the ads were misleading.
The CAP Code also required that promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must also avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. We considered that because the awarded prize was not the same as that described in the ads, the promotion caused unnecessary disappointment to participants and therefore breached the Code.
The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), 8.1 8.1 Promoters are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions. and 8.2 8.2 Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. (Promotional marketing).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told BrewDog plc not to state or imply that consumers would receive a solid gold can when that was not the case. We also told them to conduct their promotions equitably and fairly, and to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.