Saatchi&Saatchi London, a UK-based advertising agency, assisted BrewDog, a brewery and pub chain based in Ellon, Scotland in creating an anti-Qatar World Cup campaign that shines lights on human rights violations, persecution of the LGBTQ+ community and corporal punishment in the host country.
Anti-Sponsor Out-of-Home Campaign
The brand has declared itself a “proud anti-sponsor” of the Qatar World Cup and launched a campaign consisting of a series of billboards calling out tournament organizers and highlighting corruption at higher levels.
Billboards that read “First Russia, then Qatar, can’t wait for North Korea,” “Eat, sleep, breathe (bribe) football,” and “The beautiful game (shame) - proud (anti)sponsor of the World F* Cup” can be seen across the UK, signaling BrewDog’s stance on allowing Qatar to host the greatest soccer tournament in the whole world.
“So join us. Let’s raise a glass to the players. To the fans. To free speech. And two fingers to anyone who thinks a World Cup in Qatar makes sense,” said the company in a statement.
Egregious Human Rights Violations
The hard-hitting campaign holds back no punches, which may seem appropriate to some given the overwhelming “corruption, abuse, and death” associated with the tournament.
According to The Guardian, there have been more than 6,500 documented migrant worker deaths since the organizers bestowed Qatar with the title of the host country back in 2010.
While BrewDog knighting the event as “World F*Cup” holds merit in light of evidence proving egregious human rights violations, the Scottish brand might not be the right dog to bark up this particular tree.
Trouble Brewing on the Homefront
Last year, the BrewDog CEO had to publicly apologize following an open letter signed by 75 former employees accusing the craft beer brand of creating a “culture of fear” in the workplace.
The claims of a toxic and misogynistic work culture were frequent enough for BBC to investigate, culminating in a documentary titled “Disclosure: The Truth about BrewDog.”
What followed was 10 months of negative social media traction bringing the brewery’s working conditions and approach to employee complaints to light.
Since then, the company has stated that “it has learned from past mistakes and most current staff enjoy working there.” Whether there’s truth in that statement or not, remains to be seen.
The trouble doesn’t seem to end there.
A viral image circulating the internet seems to indicate that BrewDog is selling its products in Qatar ahead of the world cup. The company has since come out to say that they don’t sell its brew directly to Qatar Distribution Company, instead dealing with a third-party supplier that just happens to operate in Qatar among other places.
“We are pleased our campaign has struck a nerve and successfully raised huge awareness of the continued human rights abuses in Qatar,” said a BrewDog spokesperson. “We don’t sell directly to Qatar, but we do have a relationship with a distributor that sells into multiple Middle Eastern markets, primarily into Dubai but including Qatar.”
Fortunately, BrewDog plans to donate all profits it makes from Lost Lager, for the duration of the event, to human rights charities.