BrewDog RateBeer - the world's most provocative beer campaign


BrewDog’s RateBeer campaign is a case study based on single-minded thinking and bravery. Bravery in the creative content used, bravery in the way it was executed, and bravery in the way it was delivered to the defined target audience. And it paid off.


BrewDog is a brand built on attitude. And their attitude is ‘Punk’. Anti-corporate, anti-mainstream, and anti-advertising. In fact, after founding BrewDog, when asked about the potential of advertising, owner James Watt stated “I would rather take my money and set fire to it... It’s the antithesis of everything we stand for and everything we believe in. It’s a medium that is shallow, it’s fake and we want nothing to do with it.” 

So the advertising brief to drive mass awareness and trial of BrewDog, within mainstream beer drinkers, wasn’t a simple one. 

The challenge was to wake up ‘sleepwalking lager drinkers’, who order a Stella, a Bud or a Fosters out of habit. We aimed to change the behaviour of these beer drinkers, and persuade them to try a BrewDog Punk IPA. 

It goes without saying that this drive for awareness and trial needed to be done in keeping with BrewDog’s provocative attitude. But this time, the brief was to use traditional advertising media. 


BrewDog’s rise from niche beer to the leader of the UK craft movement is well documented. The Scottish beer has consistently been the UK’s fastest-growing food and drink brand – growth that has been fuelled by very successful provocative PR stunts. Think driving tanks down Camden High Street and throwing taxidermy cats out of helicopters. 

But our challenge was not simply one of fame generation for the brand. It was all about trial. Early craft adopters had already flocked to BrewDog. But in order to maintain their rapid growth, the brand had reached a point where it needed to convert more mainstream beer drinkers. These consumers were not interested in the craft revolution. And ultimately, they are much harder to attract. 

So we needed to focus on the one true element that makes BrewDog different from mass produced lagers. The product. The beer. And in this case, Punk IPA, BrewDog’s flagship beer. 

From blind tastings, we knew that it’s hard to tell the four biggest selling UK lagers apart. Budweiser, Fosters, Stella Artois and Carling are all simple plain beers, with very little taste differentiation. In contrast, BrewDog Punk IPA is an explosion of flavour, with new world hops bringing big hits of grapefruit, pineapple and lychee. 

From a unique taste point of view, when compared to the traditional mainstream, Punk IPA is off the scale. 

So how to demonstrate this ‘off the scale’ taste point without falling into the ‘seen it before’ trap of ‘tastes better’ advertising? That’s where came in. is a website for beer geeks, who drink beer and then go online and rate it. There is some complicated maths that goes on via their algorithms, with the product being a score for each beer, out of 100. scores Carling at 1/100, Fosters at 3/100, Stella at 9/100, and Budweiser at a remarkable 0/100. (Ironically, AB InBev, Budweiser’s owner, actually own, having acquired it in 2017). BrewDog Punk IPA scores at 97/100. 

It’s unusual for advertising to feature competitive brands. And it’s even more unusual to feature their advertising campaign lines (perhaps it’s never been done before?). So we thought that combining the ratings of BrewDog’s big brand competitors with a play on their famous advertising lines would be fun, highly provocative, and most importantly, get noticed and prompt behaviour change. 


The objective of the campaign was to drive awareness and trial of Punk IPA with mainstream lager drinkers. 

And that’s exactly what the campaign did. 

In an independent September 2018 study, YouGov brand tracking data illustrated that following the campaign, BrewDog brand awareness rose from +2 to +7, and word of mouth (“whether you have talked about a brand among friends of family”) rose from +3 to +7. 

YouGov then asked current Stella, Budweiser, Foster’s and Carling drinkers who had seen the campaign but were already aware of the BrewDog brand, if they would consider buying BrewDog Punk IPA. 

25% of Stella’s current customers (who say they are aware of the BrewDog brand before the campaign) said they would buy Punk IPA, followed by 21% of Carling’s, 19% of Budweiser’s and 19% of Foster’s. 

In YouGov’s words: “The data shows that BrewDog made a well-judged move, as there is a substantial proportion of mainstream beer drinkers who have the potential to be swayed. The bold ad campaign has achieved cut-through – and the brand will now be looking to capitalise on it.” 

The campaign caught the attention of one or two others as well…


BrewDog RateBeer - the world's most provocative beer campaign

isobel's BrewDog’s RateBeer campaign is a case study based on single-minded thinking and bravery. Bravery in the creative content used, bravery in the way it was executed, and bravery in the way it was delivered to the defined target audience. And it paid off.

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