Bare faced cheek or clever marketing?


What to make of BrewDog’s latest wheeze: asking their shareholders to promote the Fraserburgh-based craft brewers by dropping off marketing packs in their local bars.

Until recently, BrewDog have supplied the off licence trade and sold mainly to supermarkets and drink shops. They are beginning to expand into the on trade and have mobilised their shareholders to do their sales and marketing for them. The idea is that their shareholders present the marketing packs to their local bars in an attempt to get them to stock BrewDog products. For every bar that takes up the offer, the shareholder gets a BrewDog goodie bag and the hope that they have helped grow the value of their shares.

It is a strategy which is as unusual as BrewDog’s fund-raising methods. Last year, BrewDog offered fans the chance to buy into the company under their Equity for Punks scheme. For £230, investors became the proud owners of a small chunk of the BrewDog firm and, possibly more importantly for many of them, they received a lifetime 20% discount on all their online orders of BrewDog products. The scheme raised £750,000, a sizable chunk which many SMEs might find difficult to secure from the bank in the current climate.

Now BrewDog are aiming to capitalise on their shareholders’ brand loyalty by asking them to act as an unpaid sales force for the company. It’s hard to imagine other companies having the chutzpah to do the same. How would BP’s investors or British Airway’s shareholders feel if they were asked to promote the companies to customers in exchange for a goodie bag?

I imagine that institutional investors would take a very dim view of such a suggestion but given BrewDog’s passionate and grassroots customer base it just might work. It’s certainly a striking example of a Scottish company which is not afraid to try and do things differently.

The Vistage Scotland blog mentioned BrewDog before when the road kill packaging of one of their beers garnered them headlines around the world. Asking shareholders to tout their products is likely to be just as controversial.

What do you feel? Is it a desperate and cheeky idea or a clever way to use brand loyalty to crack new markets?

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