Why BrewDog’s pantomime horse suggests digital is a better investment than big budget ad campaigns

When the co-founders of a multi-million pound business don a pantomime horse costume to promote their latest product, people are naturally going to take notice.


The low budget campaign  unveiled earlier this month for its new craft stout Jet Black Heart, was designed to poke fun at Diageo’s lavish ad for Guinness, but it also emphasised the importance of the product, the end user and if you hadn’t already figured it out, the BrewDog brand itself.

In fact James Watt and Martin Dickie’s decision to break with convention and avoid “spend[ing] millions of pound on ad campaigns to get people to drink your beer,” suggests we are seeing a trend emerging where brands are recognising that there are  better ways than advertising to generate buzz, impact and cut through without huge budgets.

The use and application of digital platforms, combined with their increasing sophistication, has made them a smarter investment to driving awareness and brand interactions.

If your digital platform doesn’t fulfil the promise of your brand identity, provide a seamless and rewarding experience through an integrated hub or offer a community through which to connect with others, it’s highly unlikely it will enable you to capitalise on your true potential.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2007, Scotland’s largest independent brewery has always set out to be disruptive and push new boundaries.

The BrewDog brand not only has a very distinctive image, it perfectly encapsulates the feelings and aspirations of its customers, but as recently reported in Campaign it is looking for a brand activation agency for the first time to change the way it is perceived by, and interacting with its customers.

For brands who command the attention of a large proportion of the millennial market, having an online presence that not only matches that perception, but delivers on it with abundance is crucial.

If it wasn’t BrewDog wouldn’t be investing in a new partner. But there is a bigger story here.

Brands need to invest in developing a customer-centric model which is designed to maximise engagement and drive loyalty. At the same time they need to identify how these enriched experiences can positively influence the brand and drive real business transformation.

A lavish advertising campaign simply cannot deliver the same return, at least not in the long-term.

If a brand can capture its audience in a way which rewards them and adds value to their lives they are going to come back for more. Only digital done right can facilitate that, but it all comes down to user experience.

If the touchpoints customers are able to interact with resonate with them and inspire interactions that provides a catalyst for change, not only for the consumer but the business too.

Especially if they are able to extract insight from the way they interact and feed that across the rest of the business.

So in conclusion digital done right has the power to deliver real business transformation, especially if you already have an active fan base, but there is a skill to it. The pantomime horse is only just the beginning of a long and exciting journey.

By Damon Mangos, creative director and founder, Delete