BrewDog has made a long career out of being independent and hipper-than-thou (capitalist) punks while also brewing beer good enough to spread worldwide. Their bread-and-butter of advertising has always been pushing the envelope and inciting ridicule from the call-out culture of Twitter and then half-apologizing by saying they were “misunderstood.”
The last cycle of this carnival show happened when they rebranded their Punk IPA as Pink IPA: Beer For Girls. The media campaign that pointed out that this was a (bizarre) tactic for highlighting gender inequality was buried on their website. The consumer-facing branding was clearly devoid of any hint that this was meant as either satire or politics. The people got (rightfully) triggered. Think pieces were written. BrewDog made more money. Wash, rinse, repeat.
This time, BrewDog got the ire of Twitter for using porn as a parody when launching their new food and travel-centric TV streaming service. Think of it as Vice meets, well, Vice Lite. Anyway, the service launched as beer.porn, a parody of Pornhub.com. Each of BrewDog’s new shows came up as thumbnails with porn-addled titles like “Nerdy Brunette Loves Big Cocktails” for their show called The Nerdy Bartender. To which we say: Lazy jokes are lazy. Their launch basically boiled down to guys like porn, guys like to drink brews, bro. Winner, winner!
This tweet sums up many people’s reactions:
The brunt BrewDog has taken was less for the lazy porn jokes (though using male-centric porn does discount female beer drinkers) and more for the general content they’re charging people $4.99 a month to watch. Several of the shows and subjects bothered people more with jokes being thrown around that read both transphobic or homophobic as men dressing up as women is played for laughs. Titles like “Jungle Fevre” land like a late colonialist turd and make you wonder what century the marketing team at BrewDog is living in.
It’s very easy to get enraged by Bros reveling in their 20th-century ways — one of BrewDog’s ads is literally a beer cork popping in slow-mo to simulate ejaculation. Beer, and craft beer especially, already has a very damaged relationship with women by turning them into sex symbols for profit. This affirms that stereotype yet again. And, look, satire, juvenile comedy, and porn all exist in their own lanes and can be consumed within those spaces. But BrewDog is a massive beer company on the international stage that needs 50 percent of the population to buy their product to survive (hundreds of billions of dollars of investment aside). At some point, you have to start to wonder why we keep giving into their “let’s piss off the snowflakes and get free advertising” ways.
Look, call-out culture is going to call-out. But if someone’s gaming the system to get you to call them out, then what’s the point? The alt-right is going to buy BrewDog’s beer more to piss off the call-out culture and the call-out culture on Twitter will move on, having handed BrewDog (or any entity) new customers and free ads. It’s hard to find a balance without everyone losing. And that’s exactly the conversation that erupted on Twitter about BrewDog.
In the end, BrewDog knows it’ll win — you’re reading this and they’re charging you $4.99 a month to watch endless advertising for their beer. Still, BrewDog’s ethos rings very cynically across the beer universe. And that cynicism shouldn’t have a place in something as fun as beer.