A political scandal inspired Brewdog's 'Barnard Castle Eye Test' beer

Brand responds to social media memes about U.K. government advisor Dominic Cummings

Published On
May 28, 2020

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Beer brand Brewdog has jumped in on the political scandal that's been dominating news headlines in the U.K. since last weekend with a limited-edition beer. 

Since the suggestion that Boris Johnson's top political advisor, Dominic Cummings, broke what many people understood to be the "rules" during lockdown and traveled out of London with his wife suffering coronavirus symptoms, the memes have been flowing thick and fast on social media.

In particular, people jumped on Cummings' claim made at a press conference on Sunday, that he drove to a beauty spot at the town of Barnard Castle, 30 miles from where he was isolating, to "test his eyesight" before returning to work in London after having had the virus. In April, the government advice, drawn up by a team that included Cummings, was to stay at home and exercise near your home. At the time, people were being fined for driving to beauty spots to take a walk. (Cummings has yet to resign or be sacked—police said on Thursday that they would take no action against him, although they said he had potentially committed a "minor breach" of lockdown rules.)

Brewdog turned one of the many memes about eye tests into an actual product, Barnard Castle Eye Test beer, promoted as "short sighted beer for tall stories." Packaging is designed in the style of an optician's eye test.

"The people have spoken. So, we decided to actually do it," tweeted the brand. The limited-edition product is available to buy online with all profits going towards the production of hand sanitizer for the NHS and healthcare charities. Earlier on in the pandemic, Brewdog started making its own hand sanitizer, Punk Sanitizer, at its distillery in Scotland to help with shortages.

The brand is known for other provocative stunts, often with agency Uncommon. Earlier this year, an ad for its alcohol free beer with the tagline  "Sober as a Motherfu-"  was banned by the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority after complaints that it was positioned near to schools. This project was an internal idea, and Uncommon did not work on it.