A Brewdog customer who won of their heavily advertised ‘gold cans’ – said to be worth £15,000 – was left disappointed after finding it was actually mostly made of brass.
The Scottish brewer launched the ‘Willy Wonka’ style promotion earlier in November, shipping out 10 ‘solid’ gold cans to customers in its 12-pack Punk IPA boxes.
Mark Craig from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, who works in the drinks industry, was one of many who bought cases of its flagship beer with hopes of finding a gold version hidden inside.
After winning, Mark contacted Brewdog – which came under fire this month after claims of mistreating employees – for a verification certificate, it was revealed the can was simply gold plated.
One of the winners of Brewdog’s ‘solid gold cans’ said it was actually mostly made up of brass
Mark, 32, told the Sun: ‘I wanted to sell the can and contacted BrewDog for any certification they had.
‘The certificate they sent said it was gold-plated but they promoted it as solid gold. When I contacted them they told me the “solid gold” claim was an error.’
The competition was initially advertised by tweets from the company in November 2020 with many excited fans bulk ordering cases in hopes of winning a gold can.
Some 50 gold cans were produced in total but this competition had ten winners with the rest being used for publicity and partnership opportunities.
Other prizes offered included £10,000 in Brewdog shares and a tour with founders James Watt and Martin Dickie at their site in Ellon, Aberdeenshire.
However, when Craig asked for a certificate provided by BrewDog, it showed the can is coated with gold plating three microns thick, or three thousandths of a millimetre, according to the Guardian.
He told the publication he had spoken to gold traders who said that if the 330ml can really was solid gold, it would be worth around £10,000 based on its weight, despite being hollow.
Based on the current gold price of approximately £1,280 per ounce, this would suggest it is between seven and eight ounces of gold, about 250 grams.
Brass is worth considerably less and would only require a couple of pounds worth to make the can.
Craig added: ‘I ultimately feel disappointed. When I won I was ecstatic, believing a solid gold can could contribute towards bills and our wedding, which has been postponed until 2022.’
Brewdog has received criticism over the way it treats it staff recently with many complaining
But the beer firm believes the £15,000 valuation of the can is still correct.
A BrewDog spokesperson said: ‘We have reached out to Mark privately to apologise for the erroneous use of the phrasing “solid gold” in some of the communications around the competition.
‘Once the error was flagged by our internal teams, we immediately removed or changed all such mentions. This error may have informed his complaint regarding the value of the can.
This is a case of an excellent creative concept being let down by sloppy execution.
Jeremy Stern – PromoVeritas
‘Importantly, the phrasing in question was never included in the detailed terms and conditions of the competition, nor in the wording informing the lucky winners of their prize.
‘We believe the valuation of the can at £15,000 is reasonable based on multiple factors – including the price we paid for its manufacture, the constituent metal and quality of the final product, the standard retail mark-up and the rarity and uniqueness of the cans.
‘As a collectible item – only 50 have been made – its value is somewhat detached from the cost of materials.
‘As the gold cans were created as a free competition prize and not for sale in the open market, we cannot guarantee, nor offer comment on its open market value.’
But despite Brewdog’s claims of the value, it all depends on what someone is willing to pay.
The £15,000 valuation figure will only apply to Brewdog fans willing to pay out thousands for one of the cans.
Experts say Brewdog should have made what prize was available clearer in their marketing
View from an expert
Jeremy Stern, chief executive of prize specialists at PromoVeritas, said: ‘This is a case of an excellent creative concept being let down by sloppy execution.
‘The first mistake was to describe it as solid gold. It clearly was never going to be solid, given the volume of a can, if it was solid it would weigh an awful lot and be easy to spot amongst your regular shopping.
‘What they might have meant was that, although hollow, it was still made of gold. But again that would have been impractical. Gold is a soft metal and would never have been able to hold its shape as a can. Hence why the tool a regular aluminium can and gold plated it.
‘The second mistake was putting a value on the can, “£15,000”. It turns out that the valuation was based not on the pure value of the gold but on the uniqueness of the piece and its collectability. In much the same way that a painting is not the value of the ink on the canvas. However this was not made clear in the marketing.’
The industry is carefully regulated by the CAP Codes, overseen by the ASA and they are based on the principles of legal, decent, truthful and honest. However, Stern says there is leeway.
‘Few would have believed that Willy Wonka actually put a Gold Ticket into his chocolate bars, it would have been gold coloured – but then worth a massive prize.
‘This Brewdog activity does not quite fall into this category. Whilst the average person might not think it was a solid can, they would certainly expect the can to be worth close to £15,000.
‘That is where Brewdog have gone wrong, and in my opinion, need to make good on the advertised value of the prize – ensure that winners who wish to receive £15,000 are suitably compensated. Of course some may wish to hold onto their can, in the hope of selling it to a collector in the future at a higher price.
‘This shows that care and attention is required throughout the process, from idea, to messaging, to prize delivery, and that marketing people really should consider all the breakpoints. What could go wrong, and then plan accordingly.
‘Running effective, safe and compliant prize promotions is an art and needs careful management by professionals.’
When customers started getting their deliveries, some of those receiving the cases accused drivers of opening the cases up beforehand.
Many speculated they did so to find the gold cans and claim the prize for themselves, with a swap with a regular can of Punk IPA easy to make.