Seven months after claims of fostering a ‘toxic’ workplace culture, and a week before BBC One airs a one-hour special into the scandal, BrewDog has partnered with the online movement #IAmWhole in a bid to spark conversations around mental health issues.
The campaign, which was made with Rizzle Kicks’s Jordan Stephens, aims to encourage people to unbottle their feelings and open up about anxiety and depression.
In the video, viewers hear Stephens reciting a self-penned poem, while celebrities including Danny Dyer, John Simm, Mark Williams, Mo Farah, Jason Fox, Seann Walsh and Bimini Bon Boulash remind men to take care of their mental wellbeing.
To coincide with the initiative, BrewDog developed alcohol-free ‘Sad AF’ beer and will donate 100% of the profits to #IAmWhole’s vital research fund.
While the push will no doubt have positive effects, questions could arise as to the choice of partner in BrewDog in light of last year’s accusations.
Back in June, the activist group Punks With Purpose penned an open letter to the firm, highlighting that workers often felt bullied and that being treated like a human being was “sadly not always a given for those working at BrewDog.”
The online post went on to read: “So many of us started our jobs there eagerly, already bought into the BrewDog ethos, only to very quickly discover that ‘fast-paced’ meant ‘unmanageable,’ and ‘challenging’ meant ‘damaging.’”
In response co-founder James Watt issued an apology, stating that it was “hard to hear” the comments but that it must have been “harder to say them.”
The Drum reached out to Punks With Purpose for comment on this new campaign, and freelance writer Siobhan Buchanan – who is credited on its website as being a key figure in exposing sexism and misogyny in the beer industry – said that “BrewDog were directly responsible for the poor mental health of many people.”
Buchanan added that IAmWhole’s decision to partner with the Ellon-based brewery seemed “incredibly dismissive of all the hurt that has been cataloged so far.”
On the ‘Sad AF’ branding, she notes that it “seems incredibly insensitive and shows a lack of compassion from both parties.”
The hour-long BBC Disclosure special investigating the truth behind BrewDog’s marketing hype and workplace culture will air on BBC One at 7pm on January 24.