BrewDog has tapped the Studio of Art and Commerce – an agency that “gives brands an active role in culture” – for a global marketing brief it hopes will spearhead a renewed push for corporate success after it sold a stake in the business to private equity owners.
The first slate of work launched today and turns the focus from the founders – largely the faces of the brand’s marketing to date – to the 50,000 people that have invested in BrewDog though crowdfunding. It comes ahead of a raft of other activity in the pipeline for the coming months as the brand looks to take a greater foothold in markets outside of the UK such as the US and Sweden.
"We are very excited to be working with BrewDog, one of the fastest growing and progressive brands in the UK," said founder Heide Cohu.
"BrewDog are on a mission to make great tasting beer available to everyone. Our insights into people and culture allows us to weave this passion into people's lives."
The formal appointment of an agency and agreement on a tactical marketing plan is a noticeable shift in tack for the 10-year old, self-styled 'libertine craft brewery' which has proudly taken a “don’t give a shit” attitude when it comes to anything that isn’t about its own beer or the people who drink it – especially when it comes to advertising.
Founders James Watt and Martin Dickie have been the brand’s spokespeople and both have vehemently eschewed traditional above-the-line advertising in favour of content, events and PR stunts to get the name out there.
Its rapid ascension to become a billion-dollar brand is evidence of that strategy’s success but the last few years have seen it work hard to crack America and expand its offering into Europe. Following last week’s £100m cash injection from US private equity firm SG Consumer Partners, the Scottish company is now pushing forward at record pace to take its wares to new drinkers.
Cue the hiring of the Studio of Art and Commerce.
By all accounts, BrewDog has been on the hunt for an agency for some time, but Watt has not been shy in telling industry press that those coming through its doors have not been up to scratch.
However, its new agency – founded by Cohu and Mark Cramphorn – is not a conventional creative shop. Seeing itself as a “modern, progressive communications agency as opposed to a siloed, functional advertising agency”, it promises to “help brands weave themselves into culture and people’s lives” and currently counts Unilever, Boots, Walgreens and Ford among its clients.
The agency was recommended to Watt as an antidote to those he had been spoken to up until then. After making the journey from Soho to Aberdeen to meet the eminent founders, the idea pitched was signed off on the spot and by the end of the week it was being brought to life.
“We had a point of view of BrewDog; that it was all about crowdsourcing and a brand built on the community of people passionate about craft beer,” Cramphorn told The Drum. “And Watt said that was exactly what its advertising should be [about]. It was presented as something completely different to what he’d seen in the past.”
The first execution is currently rolling out. Dubbed ‘I am Punk’, the social campaign profiles just some of the 50,000 people who have invested in BrewDog over the years. The shots were taken during the company’s AGM (‘Annual General Mayhem) last weekend, an event which invites the so-called ‘Equity Punks’ to a rock-festival-come-company meeting.
Posted with the hashtag #IamPunk, the 2,000 different black and white portraits were created and all run with the campaign slogan as well as the individual’s own investor number.
Finding itself at a crossroads, the brewer is clearly keen to show that it’s still the same beer-obsessed and community supported brand it always has been, despite its newfound corporate backers.