Is BrewDog really the source of all our problems?
Portman Group Issues
Some of you may be aware of the Portman Group's issues with our labels.
A decision will be made as to whether or not our products should be blacklisted at a Portman Group panel in September. If the panel upholds the commission's findings we will no longer be allowed to sell our beer, in their current packaging, in the UK market.
I guess alot of you are people who have drunk our beers before. How many of you thought that Hop Rocker would ‘enhance mental and physical capabilities' or that Rip Tide encouraged you to engage in ‘anti-social behaviour'?
The Portman Group are funded by the biggest players in the UK alcohol business and consequently are free to act as a cartel and have a vested interest in ensuring small producers are not successful and do not infringe on their funders market share.
My original response to their allegations.
Ironically for a body funded by the UK's leading alcohol producers, those responsible for the supermarket pricing debacle, they have decided to target a small craft beer producer for the apparent evils beyond imagination contained on our labels.
According to their website, one of their beliefs is:
"Enlightened corporate social responsibility is positively good for business" Anyone who can understand that callous concoction of management paradigms and in fashion corporate buzzwords which were pieced together by a marketing agency deserves an honorary PHD (and maybe some free beer) in my view.
Anyway, we are in breach of the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.I quote directly from the correspondence:
PIPC considered Rip Tide to be in potential breach of Code rule 3.2b for the following reason:"The product is described as a "twisted merciless stout" associating its consumption with anti-social behaviour"
PIPC considered Hop Rocker to be in potential breach of Code rule 3.2j for the following reason "Description of the product includes "nourishing foodstuff" and "magic is still there to be extracted from this drink" implying it could enhance mental or physical capabilities"
PIPC considered Punk IPA to be in potential breach of Code rule 3.2b for the following reason:"This product is described as an "aggressive beer" thus associating its consumption with anti-social behaviour" Apparently they are going to advise retailers not to stock the beers unless the labelling is changed.
My contention would be; does Jamie Oliver saying that a pepper is spicy encourage those who eat it to be hot-headed; does naming a dessert "death by chocolate" increase the murder rate in the UK; does a drink called Blue WKD encourage people to be wicked, or perhaps pornographic?
Or perhaps more simply does the Portman group's letter to BrewDog not only show their massive failings and short-comings as an organisation by provide a telling little microcosm for a far more widespread epidemic in our society? What is the new meaning of anti-social behaviour (which BrewDog is apparently encouraging) if it is not some new buzzword to replace crime by some lame criminologist with a PHD and zero real world experience? In fact anti-social behaviour is not coming out of your room for supper when all your friends and relatives have dropped by. Our society is not going to get better by playing about with meanings. Meaning lies deeper than the words used to convey it.
We are not going to cure criminals by applying softer terms for their criminal activity; we are not going to cure society by taking the words on labels completely out of context and punishing a small boutique producer when large producers sell beer cheaper than water.
If I wanted to encourage anti-social behaviour my labels would state:
Step 1: Drink bottle of Punk IPA
Step 2: Blow up a goose with a foot pump and use it as a Harmonica to play various Celine Dione hits.
Step 3: Hit any small children with a German sounding name (e.g. Andreas) over the head with a peppered sausage
The Portman group has some admirable aims if you can dig the out the pseudo-novo-chic, management speak of their their over-priced, consultancy indulgent policy statements. As always though, the proof of the pudding is in the eating (or Killing - see above) and their execution lacks focus, common sense and a basic understanding of the industry they attempt to police. And one final point, I have had a good look at their website and I am struggling to find out who Mr./Mrs./Miss/ (perhaps Viscount) Portman is, I am hoping it is Natalie, she rocked out in Star Wars.