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Brewdog Portman Group

BrewDog calls for The Portman Group to be scrapped


By The Drum Team, Editorial

November 14, 2008 | 4 min read

The managing director of a Scottish beer company has called for the UK body which promotes sensible drinking, The Portman Group to be scrapped.

James Watt, managing director of BrewDog has said that the group is impeding the development of smaller brewing companies.

The Portman Group and BrewDog have been in dispute following claims that the Aberdeen based company’s packaging and marketing has promoted excessive potentially breaches its official code of conduct.

BrewDog has refuted these claims and refused to change its packaging despite the appeal being upheld at the end of last month. Unless it does make the changes, The Portman Group is likely to remove BrewDog’s products from retailer’s shelves.

The company is now awaiting a final decision from The Portman Group before deciding on the next move.

The Portman Group is funded by large scale alcohol companies including members such as Bacardi-Martini, Beverage Brands (UK) Ltd, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg UK, Coors Brewers UK, Diageo Great Britain, InBev UK Ltd, Pernod Ricard UK and Scottish and Newcastle.

Posting to the BrewDog blog at James – is now of the opinion enough is enough.

He said: “I find it incredible that The Portman Group can be this worked up over what is contained on our labels while refusing to hit out at the companies who are selling 24 cans of strong lager for less than £10 in major supermarkets.

“The Portman group has some admirable aims if you can dig the out the pseudo-novo-chic, management speak of their over-priced, consultancy indulgent policy statements but their execution lacks focus, common sense and a basic understanding of the industry they attempt to police.

“I believed that Freedom of Speech and Expression were alive in our democratic society. It is alarming that an unelected, unrepresentative industry cartel can simply crush the foundations on which our democracy is built.

“The best explanation for their actions is that they have zero understanding of the industry they are trying to police and are completely out of touch with our society. The worst is that they are acting like a suppressive monopolistic cartel.

“What the Portman Group also has to remember is that BrewDog is incredibly successful in the US and Sweden, both of which account for more sales than in the UK, and that our ethos, which includes the labelling, is part of what makes us a success story – a success even in these difficult times.

“Would they prefer us to be a bland, no-mark company? Well, I’m sorry but BrewDog is known for two things in our products – all natural ingredients and attitude. We’ll leave bland as an ingredient for other drink companies.”

On the blog James adds: “The Portman Group is funded by companies concerned about BrewDog infringing on their market share and to me they are acting like a cartel and it seems to me that they are in clear breach of EU laws on competition and freedom of speech.

“With regards to the way they have treated us, we will take this to the courts, we will take this to the press, and we will take this to parliament. Can one determined young brewer bring about their demise? Possibly.”

Meanwhile, BrewDog has appointed Glasgow based agency DADA to handle its PR. The account was previously held by the Abrdeen office of The BIG Partnership.

Brewdog Portman Group

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