Edgy Scottish brand BrewDog – which claims to produce craft ‘beers for punks’ – said in a strong blogpost that the latter had leaned on judges to ensure BrewDog didn’t win the ‘Bar Operator of the Year’ award at the British Institute of Innkeeping Scottish Awards in Glasgow on Sunday.
According to BrewDog co-founder James Watt (pictured): “One of the judges (seated at our table) told us in disbelief ‘this simply cannot be – the independent judging panel voted for BrewDog as clear winners of the award.”
The recipients of the award on the night refused to accept it since it had ‘BrewDog’ engraved on it, Watt said, as it emerged that Diageo had threatened the awards committee that it would cut all funding for future BII events if BrewDog won, while their representatives would not present awards on the night.
Ashamed and embarrassed
This Tuesday, BrewDog said, Kenny Mitchell, chairman of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) in Scotland and chair of the Awards Committee, phoned the company and said: “We are all ashamed and embarrassed about what happened. The awards have to be an independent process and BrewDog were the clear winner.”
He added: “We were as gobsmacked as you by Diageo’s behaviour. We made the wrong decision under extreme pressure. We should have stuck to our guns and given the award to BrewDog.”
A Diageo spokesperson said: “There was a serious misjudgement by Diageo staff at the awards dinner on Sunday evening in relation to the Bar Operator of the Year Award, which does not reflect in any way Diageo’s corporate values and behaviour.”
They added: “We would like to apologise unreservedly to BrewDog and to the British Institute of Innkeeping for this error of judgement and we will be contacting both organisations imminently to express our regret for this unfortunate incident.”
‘Pseudo corporate responsibility’
But BrewDog James slammed Diageo’s “pseudo corporate responsibility”, and added: “Perhaps more tellingly it is an unwitting microcosm for just how the beer industry is changing and just how scared and jealous the gimp-like establishment are of craft beer revolutionaries.”
Diageo’s embarrassment is further compounded by the fact that its apology appears online alongside a link to a speech CEO Paul Walsh made on Tuesday to the ‘Responsible Business Summit’ in London.
He said: “Businesses are driven by the need to grow, to compete and build profits – only by doing so can we create shareholder value over the long term.
Walsh added: “The truly successful businesses of the next decade will be those that understand that they cannot do this without collaborating. The most successful businesses will be collaborative in outlook and recognise the advantages.”
Neither the BII nor Diageo were available for comment as we went to press.