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Scottish-based brewery and pub brand Brewdog has come under fire for protesting Qatar’s hosting of the Fifa World Cup with donations to human rights organisations, while still planning to show the football competition in its venues.
The company announced on Monday it would be giving all of the profits made from its Lost Lager during the contest to “causes fighting human rights abuses”, branding the World Cup a “World F*Cup” instead.
The open letter reads: “Football’s been dragged through the mud, before a single ball’s been kicked. Let’s be honest: Qatar won it through bribery - on an industrial scale.
“Football is meant to be for everyone, but in Qatar, homosexuality is illegal, flogging is an accepted form of punishment, and it’s OK for 6,500 workers to die building your stadium. That’s why we’re kicking off.
“We’re proud to be launching Brewdog as an anti-sponsor of the World F*Cup. To be clear, we love football; we just don’t love corruption, abuse and death.”
Fair enough, except things got a little awkward for Brewdog in the tweet’s replies, when they confirmed they would still be showing the World Cup in their pubs.
In response to one Twitter user, they wrote: “We are, because [we] don’t want to stop people watching the football. Corruption shouldn’t stop this.
“Besides, the more football we show, the more Lost is sold, the more money goes to charity.”
\u201c@sheepdean We are, because don't want to stop people watching the football. Corruption shouldn't stop this. Besides, the more football we show, the more Lost is sold, the more money goes to charity.\u201d
\u201c@BrewDog @sheepdean This is the most pathetic attempt to excuse profiteering I've seen. "We completely condemn the World Cup but will show it every day it's on to ensure we sell more beer". Absolutely no shame.\u201d
\u201c@BrewDog @sheepdean No, the more football you show, the more money YOU make from all the others beers and food you're selling. If you want to make a stand, take a hit. Don't profit massively while waving your pathetic little "values" flag\u201d
\u201cIt\u2019s amazing how skilled Brewdog are at annoying me.\u201d
— Dr Dyks \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Dr Dyks \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6)
\u201c"Yeah Qatar sucks, so come watch it in our bars and if you buy this one specific drink we'll give some of the proceeds to a charity"\n\nBrewdog is just repeatedly being shown as superficial shite, aren't they. What a meaningless stance to take.\u201d
\u201cUgh. I hate everything they do. Everything. Talking about death and abuse and making football puns in the same fucking statement. Yet another predictable self-congratulatory icky form of stuntvertising I hate it I hate it\u201d
— Amy Charlotte Kean (@Amy Charlotte Kean)
As well as the terrible optics, the company has previously faced criticism for its own handling of workers’ rights. An open letter signed by hundreds of former employees was published in June last year, accusing the company of a “rotten culture” of fear.
In a comment issued to City AM, Bryan Simpson, of the trade union Unite, said: “The treatment of workers in Qatar is an international scandal but Brewdog have a cheek saying anything about workers’ rights when hundreds of their own workers (past and present) signed an open letter detailing a ‘culture of fear’ with workers demanding an apology for ‘harassing, assaulting, belittling, insulting or gaslighting them’.
“This horrendous treatment was further reinforced by the much-cited BBC Disclosure [documentary] The Truth About Brewdog, which corroborated a ‘toxic and misogynistic work culture’ across the organisation.”
Mr Simpson also branded the company’s new campaign as “dangerous” and one “designed to distract customers from the fact” Brewdog is “one of the worst employers in the brewing industry” for “doing the right thing by workers”.
A Brewdog spokesperson responded to these scathing remarks by telling City AM that “no other brewer” has invested as much in mental health, wellbeing or training as them, that they are a living wage employer, and provide sabbaticals and healthcare to their staff.
They also claimed they were “the only brewer” to give 50 per cent of its profits from retail to their bar staff.
“Where we’ve fallen short in the past, we’ve apologised, and we’re a different business today – totally focused on becoming the best employer in our sector,” the spokesperson said.
In relation to their World F*Cup campaign, they added there had been an “incredible response” to the promotion and that they decided to show the matches in their bars for two reasons.
“One, if you love craft beer and you also love football, you shouldn’t be denied the chance to enjoy them together just because Fifa is corrupt.
“Two, all profits from Lost Lager sold during the tournament will be donated to human rights charities. We will raise a lot more money if we show the matches in our bars,” they said.
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