Hit or Miss? Craft brewer mounts PR offensive on Russia's anti-gay law ahead of Winter Olympics

BrewDog, the independent Scottish brewer, launched a special edition 'protest beer' lampooning Russia's legislation against "homosexual propaganda" just before the Winter Olympics opened in the country.

Nik Done: BrewDog has got the tone of its campaign just right
Nik Done: BrewDog has got the tone of its campaign just right

The 8.2 per cent IPA is called Hello My Name is Vladimir and features a lipstick and eyeshadow-wearing Putin on the label as well as the pointedly sarcastic phrase "notforgays". A case was sent to the Russian president and the campaign included BrewDog’s co-founders copying his penchant for macho publicity shots

How I see it

Nik Done, co-founder, Unity

The BrewDog duo have followed up their controversial 2010 ‘stuffed animals’ campaign with another corker perfectly tapping into the news agenda. 

Showing off their renegade, opinionated spirit, they’ve got the tone just right – a playful poke in Putin’s ribs. The Last Leg boys would be proud. 

This stunt works for BrewDog’s audience because buying the beer allows them to express a political opinion without being po-faced. They’re also doing a good deed, because 50 per cent of profits go to charities fighting oppression.

There was deft execution from the comms professionals behind this – the picture of the package being sent to the Kremlin isn’t overly choreographed. The campaign feels authentic. 

The story has been covered across the globe, from the Washington Post to The Moscow Times, and is gaining momentum online. Let’s just hope the BrewDog team is not planning a jaunt to Russia any time soon.

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