Not another BrewDog blog? Yes, but there’s a reason, two or 75,000 Equity for Punks. For the experienced craft beer taster you might not have touched BrewDog in years, since you found something more niche. It’s probably too mainstream or cliche. Unfortunately their success has led to a backlash but that’s the British for you, always ready to pounce on anybody doing well. I’m pretty sure the Scottish brewers don’t mind upsetting a few people, that has been part of their success and their Equity for Punks campaign shows that they still have a loyal army behind them.
This week the Equity for Punks AGM takes place in Aberdeen. This isn’t a boring meeting about ticking boxes in a stuffy office with middle aged men wearing ill-fitting suits. BrewDog have been successful because of investments, not from wealthy businessmen from Dubai who have never tasted an IPA but from their drinkers, over 75,000 of them have invested £55 million in total, breaking the fourth wall between business and consumer. Their crowdfunding campaigns are unique and give customers a voice, their reward, is one hell of a party in the city that is becoming better known for brewing than oil these days.
In the past decade BrewDog has challenged the craft beer industry (notably CAMRA), mainstream alcohol manufactures and tastebuds. Punk, the American influenced IPA is their flagship beer, it was their breakthrough and continues it’s legacy, it’s inspired new brewers, converted lager drinkers to craft beer and it’s found in supermarkets but there’s so much more to BrewDog than Punk.
Their controversial marketing campaigns have helped build exposure, ‘all press is good press’ has certainly been a mindset that BrewDog has taken. The tongue-in-cheek Pink campaign, mocking other brands who use patronising female cliches was misunderstood by many, as was the anti-Putin/pro-gay beer. They celebrated one crowdfunding success by dropping ‘fat cat’ taxidermy from a helicopter over London.
The investments have allowed them to increase their Aberdeen brewery and expand globally. With more brewing opportunities they are able to be more creative, not just in marketing but in their beers too. Their core range is constantly growing and becoming more and more available but it’s their specials which make BrewDog beers interesting, maybe ‘The End of History’, the worlds strongest beer 55% was more of a publicity stunt than something to drink but it was there to prove a point.
The presence of BrewDog is increasing too. It wasn’t long ago when pubs were closing down at a rapid rate in the UK, however BrewDog bars have been doing the opposite and opening on high-streets around the world. It’s the fastest growing food and drinks company in the UK, they have also moved into the gin (LoneWolf) and vodka market and as a company they are worth over £1bn, not bad for a couple of home brewers wanting to make a decent pint.
The BrewDog story began like most craft brewers, home brewing, D.I.Y. style, that hobby in 2005 shifted into something ground breaking, a 21st century business model that shows that the world doesn’t need to give in to corporates, like punk did. The business moved from a garage to a warehouse in 2007 and the first beer to be brewed was Punk.
The Equity for Punks AGM is a ticketed event for the shareholders and they get snapped up immediately. Why? Well, beer, music and food, the perfect collaboration. 7000 Equity for Punks will get a business talk from the owners (it is business after all and there’s always a lot going on at BrewDog), once the numbers have been crunched there’s a great line-up of music including Paws, The Big Moon and Maximo Park. Obviously there’s plenty of beer available too.
Why can’t all businesses run like this?