BrewDog Declares Itself ‘Proud Anti-Sponsor’ of FIFA World Cup

BrewDog has declared itself a “proud anti-sponsor” of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in a series of billboards protesting the human rights record of host country Qatar.

The brewery unveiled a strong campaign, created by Saatchi & Saatchi London, condemning what it said were the “corruption, abuse and death” associated with the tournament.

Describing the occasion as a “World F*Cup”, the press release touts BrewDog’s plan to donate all profits made from its Lost Lager during the event to human rights charities.

“Football is meant to be for everyone. But in Qatar, homosexuality is illegal, flogging is an accepted form of punishment and it’s okay for 6,500 workers to die building your stadiums,” BrewDog founder James Watt wrote on LinkedIn, saying the business “puts [its] money where [its] the mouth is.’

The business, which also operates over 80 pubs across the UK, will broadcast matches to patrons during the four-week play-offs. It marketed its fan zones as “the perfect place to enjoy this year’s World Cup”. In response to questions about its plan to both protest and show the World Cup, BrewDog said it did not want to stop fans from watching it.

“Corruption should not stop this. “Besides, the more football we show, the more Lost sells, the more money goes to charity,” it said. he said on Twitter.

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Saatchi & Saatchi London, BrewDog

The company has not confirmed details about which nonprofits will receive the donation. However, it confirmed that it will only give to registered charities that help those “affected by injustices and human rights violations in Qatar”.

The campaign comes as official sponsors face heat from consumers and campaigners over their support for the 2022 tournament, which has been mired in controversy since Qatar won the 2010 host.

Issues surrounding Qatar’s hosting duties include allegations of corruption, bribery charges brought by the US against FIFA officials, allegations of human rights abuses and exploitation involving (mostly) migrant workers who built Qatar’s stadiums, questions from footballers and fans over anti-LGBTQ+ laws and questions about the safety of women traveling to the Gulf state.

According to Amnesty International, foreign workers make up 90% of Qatar’s workforce, with 1.7 million thought to be currently working. Official embassy figures released in 2021 revealed that 6,500 workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died since it won the bid in 2010.

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Although some title sponsors have joined the growing chorus of voices calling for compensation for the families of affected migrant workers, others have remained silent.

Division of opinion

The self-described “punk” Scottish brand has been a lightning rod for controversy since its launch in 2008, due to its shock tactics and legal battles.

In 2013, Watt said he would rather “burn money” than spend it on “shallow” traditional advertising. However, the brand typically flexes its marketing muscle through stunts promoted by above-the-line creatives—a mix that has made it a lightning rod for controversy.

The issues include bans from Britain’s advertising watchdog for explicit language and “false” promotions. In 2014, its No to Gays beer – designed to draw attention to Russia’s anti-LGBTQ+ legislation ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics that year – also divided opinion with branding that featured a seal of President Vladimir Putin in the style of Andy Warhol.

BrewDog recently apologized after being hit with a series of allegations about its own workplace culture.

In an open letter posted on Twitter in June 2021, former workers claimed the company’s rapid growth included cutting corners on health and safety, compromising its values ​​and creating a “toxic” work environment.

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Britain’s Unite union said the beer brand’s anti-Qatar campaign was “disingenuous”.

Brian Simpson, industry organizer for the group’s hospitality sector, told City AM, “The treatment of workers in Qatar is an international scandal, but BrewDog [has] cheek says something about labor rights when hundreds [its] own workers – past and present – ​​signed an open letter detailing a “culture of fear” and workers demanding an apology for “harassment, assault, belittling, insulting or gassing”.

“This is yet another disingenuous advertising campaign designed to distract customers from the fact that BrewDog is one of the worst employers in the beer industry when it comes to doing the right thing by workers,” he added.

In response, BrewDog highlighted its investments in mental health, wellbeing and training, as well as other employment benefits.

“Where we have failed in the past, we have apologized and are a different business today – fully focused on becoming the best employer in our sector,” the spokesperson added in a statement.

Another brand protesting the selection of Qatar as the host country is Danish team sponsor and sportswear brand Hummel, which has “shrunk” the team’s uniform, making its logo less visible on the shirt.


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