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A brewery CEO says he had to pay out over $500,000 to competition winners who found 'solid gold' beer cans that were actually just gold-plated

Jan 10, 2023, 23:23 IST
Business Insider
Brewdog's CEO said he paid over $500,000 to competition winners after wrongly saying they'd receive "solid gold" beer cans.Tang/Getty Images
  • The CEO of a Scottish brewery said he paid over $500,000 to competition winners over a misleading advert.
  • Brewdog claimed winners of a competition would get "solid gold" beer cans in social media posts.

A Scottish brewery CEO said he paid out £470,000 ($571,750) to winners of a competition after falsely saying they would be given "solid gold" beer cans on social media.

James Watt, CEO and cofounder of Brewdog — a leading European craft beer firm — admitted he made a "£500,000 mistake" on LinkedIn this week, after a campaign which the company ran in late 2020.

The competition "inspired by everything Willy Wonka" included hiding 50 cans made from 24-carat gold — which it said were worth around £15,000 ($18,224) — in cases of beer for customers to find. Winners would keep the can and also receive £10,000 ($12,156) of Brewdog shares, Brewdog said at the time. Watt said in his LinkedIn post that Brewdog had offered £15,000 of shares.

Some of Brewdog's tweets during the competition claimed that the beer cans were "solid gold," a claim that was incorrect. The cans were brass and plated with gold, the Guardian reported.

At least 25 winners complained to the Advertising Standards Agency after realizing the cans were not made of solid gold, but mostly composed of brass.


One of the competition winners was particularly disappointed because he had hoped to pay for his wedding by selling the beer can, he told the Scottish Sun. After requesting certification from Brewdog, he found the can was only gold-plated.

"When I contacted them they told me the 'solid gold' claim was an error," he said.

Watt said he reached out to all 50 winners to compensate them if they were "unhappy with the prize," which he said cost him £470,000 ($571,750) out of his own pocket.

Brewdog declined to comment further when contacted by Insider.

This isn't the first time Brewdog has landed in hot water with the ASA. In December 2022, the company was forced to pull an ad for joking that its fruit-flavored drinks were like "one of your five a day."

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