Maja Pawinska Sims 13 May 2019 // 11:43AM GMT
LONDON — Manifest has accused former client BrewDog of using its creative ideas without payment, two months after the agency parted company with the craft brewer.
In a tweet last week, Manifest CEO Alex Myers (pictured) quoted BrewDog’s new campaign for its Punk AF alcohol-free IPA, and said: “This is a @ManifestLDN concept. We were told @brewdog had chosen a different route. We have not been paid for it.”
Manifest was BrewDog’s retained agency for seven years and worked with the company – from a start-up to a $1bn drinks brand – for nine years in total, winning multiple awards for its often-provocative PR stunts along the way.
Myers’ comment received a positive response from the PR industry, with many practitioners and agency heads tweeting their support. He told the Holmes Report: “It wasn’t my objective to create a snowball but I guess it touched a nerve. I decided not to just decry brands nicking our ideas, but to speak out when it happens. There’s been lots of support – it’s so prevalent in PR, everyone has a war story and we’re complicit if we remain silent.”
In terms of the relationship between the two companies, he said: ““There’s absolutely no animosity from me towards BrewDog – no-one has invested more in building up that brand than me and Manifest, apart from the founders. It feels a bit sour at the moment, but we have a difference of opinion and the principle was important.”
In a response on Twitter, BrewDog co-founder James Watt defended the design of the new can as being different from Manifest’s creative for the new brand.
Myers – who said Manifest has no plans to take legal action – added: “It’s not about the design, the currency is in the big idea, and Punk AF was our idea. We rarely get paid for that innovative leap from insight to strategy, but if everyone flagged it with radical candour it might at least spark transparency and make it more clear-cut for brands as to why they might want to talk to their agencies about IP.”
BrewDog was embroiled in a separate controversy last year when it ended a relationship with Atlanta brewer Scofflaw after the latter’s PR agency, Frank, sent out a press release that mentioned that Donald Trump supporters in the UK would get free beer.
At the time of publication, BrewDog had not responded to a request for comment.