In 2018 Scotland-headquartered BrewDog cancelled a series of events with US brewer Scofflaw after a press release was sent out by the latter’s PR agency promising free beer for supporters of the President Donald Trump.
Scofflaw had hired Frank PR, a boutique agency in the UK, for one press release to promote a number of planned appearances at several BrewDog bars.
And according to Beer Street Journal, a publicist at the PR firm released an unapproved press release which stated that Scofflaw would be giving free beer to Trump supporters and that led to social media meltdown.
Responding to the release, BrewDog (no fans of President Trump) jumped ugly, cancelling the events and severing their relationship with the Atlanta, Georgia brewer.
This from BrewDog co-founder James Watt…
“We’ve been pretty clear about our views here in the past. When The Donald pulled out of the Paris Accord, we produced a protest beer called Make Earth Great Again, drawing attention to the ingredients under threat from climate change and donating profits to climate change action group 10:10.”
Both Scofflaw and BrewDog said they had not approved the press release, which was sent out by the PR agency.
Taking legal action against Frank PR, BrewDog argued that it had suffered reputational damage after being linked with the president, a politician the brewery disagrees with.
Lawyers for Frank PR, however, argued that the tone of the press release was “light-hearted” and “played on Scofflaw’s redneck image”.
They also claimed that those who received the press release with its free beer offer would know that it was intended as a “publicity gimmick”.
And on May 20, the UK High Court sided with the PR firm rejecting BrewDog’s libel suit in a summary that was delivered remotely by Justice Nicol due to the COVID-19 lockdown….
“I have found that the natural and ordinary meaning said nothing about the political philosophy of the claimants.”
“For this reason, it is not necessary to consider whether, if the words complained of had associated the claimants with Donald Trump, that would have been defamatory at common law. The issue simply does not arise.”
“Simply to say of someone that they were a supporter of Donald Trump (or his policies) would not arguably lower that person in the eyes of right-thinking people generally.”
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