Monday, 3 April 2017

David becomes Goliath

Now just The Wolf
In one way, it's quite funny watching BrewDog setting their lawyers onto a Birmingham pub which had the temerity to call itself the Lone Wolf, which is the name BrewDog uses for its spirits. They claimed trade mark infringement, which is what the estate of Elvis Presley claimed when BrewDog called one of its products Elvis Juice: they put two fingers up to the Elvis estate by reportedly both changing their names to Elvis by deed poll. At the time they wrote: "Here at BrewDog, we don’t take too kindly to petty pen pushers attempting to make a fast buck by discrediting our good name under the guise of copyright infringement."

They clearly hadn't anticipated the bad publicity surrounding their hypocrisy, so they changed tack in a hurry, offering to send some Lone Wolf spirits when the pub, unable to afford a legal battle, altered its name to, simply, the Wolf. The reality of this pair of very rich chancers has become clear to see: while the Guardian reported that they had backed down, I don't see it that way. They may have called off the lawyers, but they still got their own way with the name in the end.

They are punk entrepreneurs in the same way that Richard Branson is a hippy entrepreneur. When you hijack youth culture - of past youth in both of these cases, hippy and punk - the businessman will in time take over. In this case, they have blamed trigger-happy lawyers; whether that's true or not I can't be certain, but the point is that they employed these lawyers and therefore are responsible for whatever actions they take. Blaming people you pay to do a job seems somewhat spineless: it would have been more honest if they'd simply admitted without qualification, "Yes, we got this one completely wrong." But admitting they've made a mistake is not what BrewDog ever do; for example, in 2015 they completely rejected what were, in my view, well-grounded accusations of mocking homeless people, trans women and sex workers in one of their videos - I wrote about it here.

No one thinks of Branson as a hippy nowadays; similarly, does anyone, other than their loyal fans, take BrewDog's self-proclaimed punk credentials seriously?


  1. For what it's worth, Richard Branson was the right age to be a hippie (born 1950), but never actually was - he was running a mail order record business by the age of 20. But Watt and Dickie weren't even born at the time of punk AFAIK (which presumably is why nothing they've ever done has resembled it in any way).

  2. Their defence, which I find hard to believe, that their lawyers launched the legal action without their approval makes things even worse: either they're lying about that, or they have no idea what's going on in their own company.

  3. You're right about Branson, Phil, but he did seem to have an 'alternative' image in the early days of his business empire. I'm not sure whether that was from him, or simply an interpretation by a media confronted by a businessman whose clothes and hairstyle were unconventional.

    I agree, Matt. I'd think slightly better of them if they'd simply apologised without making excuses, but these two think they can walk on water.


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