A Scottish brewery is under investigation after a promotional campaign touting hidden solid gold cans left consumers feeling slighted when the prizes were nothing of the sort.
BrewDog used gold cans as the centerpiece for a series of promotions and advertised the golden grand prizes as worth £15,000 (approximately $21k) each.
Prizewinner Mark Craig described the predicament to The Guardian after BrewDog initially refused to communicate with him and blocked his email account when he requested more information about the value of his winnings.
On Tuesday, England-based sales manager Adam Dean told the BBC that he was shocked when he discovered the prize after a long day mowing his lawn. According to Dean, the gilded can was imprinted with the words, “You’ve won a £15k 24 carat gold Hazy Jane can.”
After speaking with Thomas Lyle, the can’s maker, Dean discovered that the prize was nothing more than a bronze art piece with a 3 millimeter layer of gold coating. Far from the £15k promised by the terms and conditions, the can appraised at approximately £500 ($700).
The Advertising and Standards Agency is currently reviewing the particulars of the case, as several winners have openly complained about false advertising and the lack of transparency from Brewdog.
Controversy is not an unordinary circumstance for the brewer, and the beermaker is currently embroiled in a series of contentious disputes. A number of former employees formed a group, “Punks With Purpose,” and published an open letter on June 9 with the intention of raising awareness about the “toxic attitudes” prevalent in the workspace and the “residual feeling of fear” experienced by the staff.
In a separate entanglement, co-founder James Watt is selling off assets to alleviate concerns regarding conflicts of interest with properties and leases connected to the brewery.
With the rash of negative publicity, BrewDog is (once-again) testing the old adage that all publicity is good. While the competition likely boosted sales and profits, disappointed prize winners were left holding gold-plated cans filled with hollow promises.