Here’s a good one. A small British beer brand- a trophy firm in the rapidly rising UK craft brewing industry- swears on its home page. The Advertising Standards Agency receives one complaint, and asks the company to remove the offending copy.
Of course this isn’t a joke. But the ASA’s reaction to words used by BrewDog within its website statement of intent is ridiculous- especially given the resulting news stories have increased overall exposure for the beer quaffing beverage maker, and ensured more people saw the profanities than probably would have done without the ‘scandal’. So it’s no surprise to hear renewed murmurings that someone, somewhere, is out of touch.
As an ale-drinking man with a sense of humour it’s easy to write off the conservative bureaucrats as outdated. In 2013, who cares if there’s a motherf*!@er here or a t*t on show there? Not many. Especially when the brand responsible sells itself as ‘punk’, and its target demographic are far from alco-pop swilling teens, meaning few minors will ever visit the website.
This is only one side to the story, mind. And, if it were a case of someone throwing the c-word around on daytime T.V., Caprice-style, then I’d be more inclined to see things from an opposing angle. Standards must be maintained, after all, because it’s impossible to judge when a line has been crossed unless we draw one in the sand first. Playing it by the rules then, BrewDog has broken regulations when it comes to what’s acceptable in a marketing push, and as such technically should have been called to order.
But perhaps that’s the problem.
In the modern world difference is the concept all firms strive to realise, and in doing so take increasingly bold steps to make an impact. Which isn’t going to please everybody, and in some cases will overstep the mark. But each instance should be judged on an individual basis, rather than within the current stringent framework of assessment, which offers very little flexibility to place campaigns and the like into context.
Almost all the headlines following BrewDog-gate used similarly blue phrases in order to pull in readers, censored but still clearly expletives, suggesting such practices are fair game when reporting the news, but not cricket when selling any other product to the public. Irrespective, it’s great PR for BrewDog, with much talkability and coverage focused on its core punk principles. Exposure you can’t really pay for, it’s further fuel to the argument that in the modern age a ban can be as good as any viral hit, spawning reams of column inches that are, by all accounts and budgets, priceless.