Don’t Panic: an explanation of our BrewDog parody campaign
Last week, Don’t Panic found himself harshly criticized for a parody campaign he launched following an open letter from BrewDog staff detailing, among other things, the mental health issues they claim his work culture caused. Here, agency founder Joe Wade explains the thought process behind the initiative.
“Explaining humor is a bit like dissecting a frog – you learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it. That’s what Mark Twain said. Nonetheless, I thought it was a sacrifice worth it to explain what we were trying to do with our BrewDog parody cans, especially since it angered some people whose opinions we really respect.
That BrewDog has been accused of treating staff badly is not entirely surprising given that it takes many forms in terms of blatant behavior, from suing small businesses to launching a pink ale. for women or, more recently, to be accused of copying agency. The concept of Manifest after a pitch, then the labeling of its non-alcoholic beer Punk AF – the inspiration for our Toxic AF flavor.
We thought cans were an appropriate response given that novelty strains have been rolled out by BrewDog himself, most recently his’ Barnard Castle ‘strain in response to Dominic Cummings’ infamous eye-testing trip.
Now anyone who has ever met me will know that I never, ever mentioned the fact that I won a Bafta TV comedy (and was nominated again), but in this case it seems justified, because when we did the political satire show The Revolution Will Be Televised, we had a rule for our satire – always punch.
In this case, the targets of the mockery are the multi-millionaire “punks” who run BrewDog, and by no means their long-suffering workforce.
The ‘Stale, Male, Pale Ale’ can is clearly aimed at company management and how their ‘punk’ approach is an old-fashioned and inappropriate way of running a large company. This point was reiterated in Toxic AF and Culture of Fear Beer, which use some of the lingua franca associated with workplace bullying and the mental health issues that can cause it. These seem to be the boxes that people have a problem with.
First of all, it’s worth pointing out that Punks With Purpose, the former worker organization leading the anti-BrewDog campaign, tweeted a “toxic workplace” (image below) demonstrating that they are behind the idea rather than offended by it. .
This demonstrates that sometimes a well-intentioned reaction to humor that deals with difficult topics can actually deprive people of the tools to a) examine an issue that affects them in a new way, b) find humor in an issue. that was previously dark and depressing, and c) attacking those responsible for their situation.
As an agency, we take calculated creative risks to decide and get our point across, without spending too much on media, and so we are always prepared for the fact that a minority of people (who are not really our audience) ) may take offense, as long as the vast majority engage.
The biggest risk for us, and for any agency that talks about social issues, is taking a bland, traditional approach that, while not offending, goes completely unnoticed.
Joe Wade is Managing Director and Co-Founder of Don’t Panic. He tweets on @Mrjoewade