Brewdog on the 'fat cat' stunt and more

James Watt, the co-founder of Brewdog spoke to Event about the craft beer brand's innovative approach to marketing, including the idea behind its recent 'fat cat' stunt.

Brewdog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie with the 'fat cats'
Brewdog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie with the 'fat cats'

Getting Brits passionate about their beer 

Watt said the brand’s marketing strategy is informed by one primary goal – to get people passionate about craft beer. "Everything we do, including parachuting taxidermy cats into London, is geared to educating and engaging the public to explore the possibilities of beer." 

In order to achieve this, the Brewdog team recognises there is a need to stand out from the crowd. "We have had to smash down the tired conceptions of what beer is as creatively as we possibly can," Watt explained.

"Without the bold, controversial nature of some of our marketing, we never would have managed to shout loud enough to be heard over the mega budgets of the multi-national conglomerate beer production companies."

Collaboration also plays an important part in the marketing strategy at Brewdog. "We don't believe in the silo-ing of ideas and innovation, that's why we are big on collaborating," said Watt.

"We learn a lot from what others in the industry are doing and that goes both ways. You begin to fail as soon as you believe you know it all."

He added it made perfect sense to create Brewdog branded bars, which are situated in locations including Clapham Junction, Camden and Shepherd's Bush. "Why did we start our bars? The simple answer is why not? They are an opportunity for us to introduce awesome beer to the world on our own terms – we'd be foolish not to have tried," said Watt.

"They are havens for craft beer exploration and bastions of beery enlightenment."

The 'fat cat' stunt

Last month Watt and fellow co-founder Martin Dickie opted to parachute a series of 'fat cats' from a branded Brewdog helicopter during London's bustling peak hour. 

Watt explained the stunt emerged from a desire to prove that alternative finance is indeed a viable option. "We wanted to make an impact. It’s the fat cats that control people’s money that we were sick and tired of, but as our crowdfunding is proving, their time is over. Taxidermy fat cats were the perfect analogy," he said.

"There’s a lot of frustration around the control that the banks seem to have over us and we wanted to show that crowdfunding is a proven, workable option for those looking to shake up the status quo."

He described the stunt as a celebratory act – Brewdog had achieved its crowdfunding target much earlier than anticipated.

"It gave us the opportunity to give the finger to traditional finance by saying we’d already smashed equity crowdfunding targets and raised £5m in less than three weeks, proving this is a viable method for businesses who are brave enough."

The future: continued creativity 

Watt remained tight-lipped regarding the brand’s approach to marketing and experiential. "We have strong ideas about what we want to achieve and what we stand for so we make sure that all our activities spark conversation and debate.

"When we first started Brewdog we never imagined that we’d be dropping taxidermy cats from a helicopter over London, so there’s no telling where we’ll go next," he explained. 

More: Brewdog to host 'Dram & Smoke' event at London pub

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