‘Pints on us’ says M&S after ‘ripping off’ pub group logo

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

No bitter-ness: Retailer "copies" pubco's trademark logo on shirt
No bitter-ness: Retailer "copies" pubco's trademark logo on shirt

Related tags Beer Craft beer co Marks & spencer London Marketing

Marks and Spencer (M&S) has withdrawn a shirt from sale after “ripping off” The Craft Beer Co logo, but the pubco’s founder isn’t losing sleep over it.

Owners of the London-based craft beer​ pub group were stunned to see the £16 T-shirt with their trademarked name and logo on it.  

“Can we expect a royalties cheque in the post?!” the operator posted on Twitter: “Surely one iconic British institution shouldn’t be ripping off another…!!?” 

Martin Hayes, co-founder of The Craft Beer Co, found the situation “annoying” but ultimately wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it.   

He said: “The pub industry is really in the doldrums these days and it’s really tough for everybody. Something like this is mild amusement and a bit of a distraction. 

“It’s certainly not something I’m going to cry about.” 

M&S said it took intellectual property “very seriously” and while the t-shirt was designed in good faith, it had taken the decision to remove the product from sale so it could investigate further. 

Championing inclusivity

The T-shirt also sported the phrase ‘proper beer for proper blokes’, which has caused quite the stir online with users calling for M&S to “check your misogyny”.

“Proper sexist marketing, from proper sexist blokes more like,” quipped one Twitter user.  

Hayes said he certainly wouldn’t want anyone to think the language had come from Craft Beer Co, which since it started, had been about making beer more accessible. 

If anyone connected the language to the pub group Hayes would be “very upset” but he was hopeful that wouldn’t happen.  

“We’re not a campaigning business,” he added, “but we’ve always been a very inclusive business [against the] old-fashioned idea that pubs aren’t a safe space for everybody.” 

But Hayes could also see the funny side of things. Ironically, the M&S HQ was located just streets away from the brewery’s newest pub in Paddington. 

“They’ve actually got a booking in our pub tonight,” he said, but assured they’d be treated just as well as anyone else would be. “Maybe they’ll all come in wearing a T-shirt,” he added. “That would actually be very funny.” 

Pints on us

M&S took to Twitter, stating it hadn’t set out to cause any “bitter-ness” and hoped the matter could be discussed over a craft beer at the pub,  “on us of course!".

This wasn't the first time The Craft Beer Co's logo has been copied, according to Hayes. A small pubco in Hong Kong, for instance, had used its name and logo, and a business in Russia had also ripped off the design while swapping the ‘c’ for a ‘k’. 

Other users backed M&S through pointing out the pubco had the most generic name for a craft beer company​ going. However, this wasn’t the case when the business was founded in 2010, according to Hayes. 

“Craft beer is now such a widely used term, but when we started, it wasn’t – it was very unusual,” he said. “Thankfully it's exploded, but many people have used it before, and they might do it again.” 

Craft Beer Co wasn’t looking to sue the retailer and hoped M&S might donate the tees to charity. 

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