Brand builder: BrewDog

BrewDog: Expanding into bars
BrewDog: Expanding into bars

Will the brewer's upfront attitude work as well in its bars as it has for its beer?

BrewDog, the attention-seeking Scottish brewer, is looking to extend its brand to the pub scene. The self-styled 'beacon of non-conformity' launched its first bar in London at the end of last year in typical BrewDog fashion - by sending a tank down Camden High Street - and intends to open 10 more this year.

Since arriving on the scene in 2007, BrewDog, which was founded by friends James Watt and Martin Dickie, has revelled in its status of professional mischief-maker, using PR and product launches to generate headlines.

Its stunts have included the roll- out of a £10 Viagra-laced beer, Royal Virility Performance, with the strapline 'Arise Prince Willy' - a typical offering from the BrewDog publicity machine.

This approach may not be to everyone's taste, and it is not surprising that BrewDog has found itself on the wrong end of a Portman Group ruling or two, but it seems to be working. Its turnover almost doubled in 2010, to £3.3m. The company predicts that 2011 turnover will be about £7m. A share issue for the brewer at the end of December raised £2.14m and it now hopes to gain an AIM listing in 2016.

BrewDog, which owns the Punk IPA and Hardcore IPA brands, launched as a brat and has evolved into an awkward teenager, but how should it manage its forthcoming adulthood?

We asked Lee Rolston, a former AB InBev marketer, and Richard Alford, managing director of M&C Saatchi, which held the Foster's account for 14 years until 2010.


LEE ROLSTON - CONSULTANT (AND FORMERLY OF AB INBEV)

BrewDog is one of those dream brands that oozes the philosophy and personality of the people behind it. It is the result of what the founders do and don't believe in, based on a great product about which they are passionate.

As is the case in all good stories, they also have an enemy: the big boys of brewing. In a cautious category, where there is less choice and products are becoming less challenging, BrewDog does the opposite to the big boys with its crazy stunts and stronger, more complex brews.

As it grows and becomes more mainstream, it will face the classic conundrum of how the underdog takes the lead without selling out. As the business gets bigger, the founders will also have to pass on the brand's philosophy to others to manage.

THE PLAN

- To get scale, BrewDog should look for distribution partners (retailers, on-trade outlets or even other brewers) that share its vision.

- It should think about the type of people it needs to grow the business beyond the founders. How the brand's spirit is passed on will be critical to success.

- It should develop a less challenging product for more everyday consumption without diluting the BrewDog brand philosophy. Scale must come from frequency of consumption as well as from converting consumers.

RICHARD ALFORD - MANAGING DIRECTOR, M&C SAATCHI

Brewdog is an extraordinary brand and company. It brews brilliant beers which seem to be born of a furious obsession with getting the product right. The two men running it are clearly a pair of lunatics, but lunatics who are on a mission.

When all the brewing is done, it's clear they stand for one thing over and above it all - belief.

Their complete belief in their cause (great beer) and the utter focus of the entire company toward delivering that (including their esoteric share-ownership scheme) is to be admired, and never relinquished.

Where does it fit in the market? Well, it doesn't; that's the point.

The danger, if there is one, is that they follow the pattern of decline of punk record labels 30-odd years ago, by publishing a few good songs and then allowing the concept to be nicked by EMI.

THE PLAN

- Keep being angry. Keep hating the big brewers. Remember, however, that the goal is to become one.

- It's probably worth exploring taking out a full page ad in The Daily Telegraph, or something along those lines. Just imagine it. Why not be totally antithetical to the norm?

- BrewDog should do more PR. Lots more. As in 10 o'clock news more. Its founders should become spokesmen for the anti-business businesses. It should aim to knock Innocent off its yoghurty perch.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer