BrewDog CEO pays almost £500k to gold can winners

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Misunderstanding: BrewDog CEO James Watt pays almost £500k compensation to disgruntled competition winners
Misunderstanding: BrewDog CEO James Watt pays almost £500k compensation to disgruntled competition winners

Related tags Brewdog Beer Finance

BrewDog CEO James Watt has paid out £470,000 to winners of the brands “misleading” promotion offering “solid gold” cans of beer.

In a post to social media site LinkedIn last week, Watt detailed he “made some costly mistakes” when initially sharing his enthusiasm for the promotion, stating the hidden cans​ were made of “solid gold” when they were “gold plated”.

Additionally, Watt claimed to have funded the compensation himself to ensure the businesses did not “suffer financially” from his “mistake”.

Writing of the “damaging episode”, he said: “A simple misunderstanding born from my excessive enthusiasm about the campaign launch morphed into a frenzy, with attacks coming in from all quarters.

“I should have been more careful. I should have checked things before I got carried away. But it was too late.”


The competition, which originally launched in 2021, saw the brewer hide 50 gold cans​ in cases of beer, with winners able to keep the cans as well as receiving £15,000 worth of BrewDog​ shares.

However, Watt stated “inspired by everything Willie Wonka”, he “misunderstood” the process of how the “beautiful” cans were made and mistakenly advertised them as made of solid gold instead of gold plated.

While the CEO claimed BrewDog’s​ £15,000 valuation was correct, winners’ complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority were upheld, resulting in Watt contacting all 50 winners offering them the full cash amount as an alternative.

Additionally, Watt stated he was now the “proud owner” of 40 of the cans but “wasn’t sure” what to do with them, adding “all ideas” were welcome.

Expensive mistakes 

He said: “We were made to look dishonest and disingenuous and we took a real hammering online and in the press. Deservedly so.

“My initial tweets had been misleading and we deserved the flak. What was looking like one of the best campaigns in our history was now, decidedly, the worst.
“This was my mistake and mine alone and it was on me to fix it. I had to find a way to make things right without the business to be punished for my error.”
Watt continued: “All in all, it ended up costing me around £470,000, well over 2 and a half years salary.
“Those were 3 very expensive mistaken tweets that I sent out in my enthusiasm for our new campaign.”

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