Free Proper Beer: Brewdog Vs Meantime

Meantime Pale Ale

As a marketer, I’m always interested in analysing campaigns, whether it be tube posters or online.

Especially if they promise FREE BEER!

Free beer always gets some attention, especially from me – and this week I took advantage of two such campaigns.


One was unashamedly overt, and one mysteriously stealth. Both offering a similar end product, but executed differently.

First up was Brewdog who are no strangers to edgy marketing stunts. This year they attempted to give away ‘1 million pints‘.

They launched the campaign with a video in which the founder smashed a pint glass against a truck. I hope he cleaned that up.

To get a free pint, all you needed to do was sign your life away (or join an email list) so you can get a voucher. Then take it into one of their bars to get a free pint of Punk IPA.

This campaign relied more on word of mouth, social media and a bit of PR to get the word out.

Free Proper Beer

The other campaign was under the guise of a campaign called ‘freeproperbeer‘ which promised free pints at numerous pubs throughout London.

It received a fair amount of press, as well as advertising at the point of sale.

It was easy to sign up by mobile or email, promising no spam, apart from the code.

I visited my local pub, The Brownswood to get the beer.  The tables were covered with advertising for the campaign, and staff wore matching t-shirts.

If this was replicated in all the pubs, it seems that most punters would have known about it by simply wandering into a pub, rather than seeing it on twitter or in the press.

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I was hoping that I’d be able to just choose any beer, but nope.

It turns out that the campaign was for Meantime, who were offering a pint of Pale Ale.

Clearly, the marketing machine behind Meantime, Asahi, are starting to put some serious cash into promotion. And despite their gag, giving away a few pints of beer is not going to make them go broke any time soon.

I would say that having seen Twitter, it seemed that the ‘free beer’ was limited to last a keg, as they used 88 pints as a hard limit it seemed.

But what about the beer itself?

Personally I preferred the Punk IPA, which was fresh and tasting great.

So 1-0 to Brewdog.

But having said that, the Meantime is certainly a quaffable, accessible English style Pale Ale. It’s just not as memorable as the hop-forward IPA.

It’s a well known fact that free beer tastes better, no matter what it is!

How much beer was given away?

I got in touch with Brewdog to find out how much free beer they dished out in the end.

Cameron from Brewdog responded with, “…we had about 300k sign up but only 70k redeem.” That is still a significant amount, as 70,000 Punk IPAs would rake in about £350,000 in turnover.

I also contacted Meantime, to understand how many had been given away. Dominic was cagey about the end figure, but seemed happy with the campaign, “Unfortunately I am unable to give away the final scores on the doors at this stage but we were amazed and the redemption rate was incredible.”

Also published on Medium.