BrewDog CEO Pays Out Approx $575K After Falsely Promoting “Solid Gold” Cans

It might have been three of the costliest tweets ever.

Credit: BrewDog
Credit: BrewDog

In what might have been three of the costliest tweets ever, BrewDog CEO James Watt posted that customers could find “solid gold” beer cans in a Willy Wonka-esque competition. In reality, the cans were merely gold-plated. Watt says the social media mistake has cost him £470,000 (approx $575,000), which he paid out of his own pocket to the competition’s disgruntled winners.

The European craft beer brand began advertising the campaign in late 2020, saying it was hiding 50 cans made from 24-karat gold within cases of beer. Winners were told they could keep the gold cans and would also receive £15,000 (approx $18,350) in BrewDog shares. The winners complained when they discovered the cans were gold-plated rather than solid gold.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Watt explained what happened and apologized for his mistake.

“Inspired by everything Willie Wonka I decided that we should hide 50 gold cans in cases of beer … I had misunderstood the process of how they were made and the initial tweets I sent out told customers of the prospect of finding ‘solid gold cans’. It was a silly mistake and it only appeared in around 3 of a total of 50 posts about the promotion but as it turns out, those 3 tweets were enough to do a lot of damage.”

Watt goes on to say that “I got in touch with all 50 winners and let them know that if they were unhappy with their prize I would personally offer them the full cash amount as an alternative. Furthermore, I promised to fund this myself so the business did not have to suffer financially from my mistake. All in all, it ended up costing me around £470,000 – well over 2 and a half years salary.”

This isn’t the first time BrewDog has been the subject of controversy. In 2021, a number of then-current and former staff members wrote an open letter criticizing their workplace, claiming it ran on a “culture of fear” and “treated people like objects.” Furthermore, earlier that year, BrewDog came under fire after a group of women and LGBTQ+ individuals came claimed they’d been fired from an Indianapolis taproom location because the company wanted a “change in culture.” Watt has issued apologies for both of those situations, as well.