BrewDog's 'Solid Gold' Cans Aren't Worth Their $20,000 Valuation, Winners Claim

One appraisal put the value at just £500 after finding the can was mostly brass.

When BrewDog started in 2007, the Scottish brewery set itself apart the old-fashioned way: by making good beer -- especially compared to the other craft brands in Scotland at the time. But somewhere on the company's path to becoming a billion-dollar global brewing behemoth, the focus seems to have shifted from beer to gimmicks -- and as publicity stunts have eclipsed BrewDog's primary purpose, the company has been subject to some publicity blunders: from the innocuously stupid -- like dropping stuffed animals from a helicopter -- to the jarringly serious -- like recent revelations of the company's toxic work environment.

In response to the latter, BrewDog has promised they would attempt to change their culture. And that may happen. But another recent PR misstep shows that the brewery still isn't done cleaning up all of the messes from their past.

Drink Cans selected
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Back in November, BrewDog launched one of their typically silly promotions: a "golden can" contest where lucky customers could win a can made from actual gold in select packages -- with the prize purported valued at £15,000 (or over $20,000). But now, some winners are questioning how the contest was promoted and whether or not the cans are actually worth as much as BrewDog promised.

Mark Craig told the British paper The Sun that he planned to sell his winning can to pay off bills and contribute towards his wedding. "I wanted to sell the can and contacted BrewDog for any certification they had," he was quoted as saying. "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."

Indeed, a still-public tweet from the official BrewDog account dated November 12, 2020, refers to the cans as "solid gold" -- as did a tweet from a follow-up contest in February.

Adam Dean, another winner, told the BBC he had a similar experience: "It said on the can 'you've won a £15k 24-carat gold Hazy Jane can.' Once I'd got over the shock, I wanted to cover it on my house insurance. I got in touch with the can's makers, Thomas Lyte, who told me it was actually brass with a 24-carat gold plating," he said. "I had it valued by a jewelry expert. He told me it was only worth £500."

For its part, BrewDog supplied a statement to the BBC explaining, "We have reached out to Mark privately to apologize for the erroneous use of the phrasing 'solid gold' in some of the communications around the competition." They then later added, "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."

As for the supposed £15,000 value, BrewDog told the British paper The Guardian that the valuation was "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 markup and the rarity and uniqueness of the cans." However, when pressed about whether they would buy the can back from the winner for £15,000 minus costs, BrewDog reportedly declined to comment.

Dean, for one, wasn't satisfied. He told the BBC that he filed a formal complaint with the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). "I'm just totally disappointed and I want it resolved," he was quoted as saying. "I legally entered a competition to win a solid gold can but I've not got that. I asked for shares (in the company) to make it up to £15,000, and Brewdog basically said no, so I called the ASA."

"A complainant has challenged whether the claim that the prize was solid gold is misleading as they believe it's not made from solid gold and rather brass and gold plating," the ASA told the BBC, saying they were currently investigating whether to take further action. "They have also challenged whether another ad is misleading as they understand the can is not worth £15000."

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