There’s nothing new about controversial marketing campaigns – over the years, controversial ads from the likes of Burger King and Nike have paid off. But sometimes, there’s a very fine line between an attempt to be “edgy” and being downright crass – a line that Bristol Dry Gin most definitely crossed in early June 2020.
At a time when the death of African-American man George Floyd at the hands of a police officer has sparked riots across the US, the Bristol micro-distillery shared an image across their social media as follows:
Understandably, social media users were quick to react. The post, which references both a controversial tweet from Donald Trump the previous Friday and a racist police chief from the 1960s, was quickly slammed for using an unlawful death to the company’s attempted advantage.
In a city with strong historical links to the slave trade, the sheer idiocy of this “campaign” is even more apparent – but Bristol Dry Gin clearly saw it all as one big joke.
They quickly deleted the post when they realised things were heading south, but not before adding further comments to fuel public anger.
In one, they stated that they “should have gone with the coronavirus joke”: equally poor taste, given the c. 40,000 deaths caused by the pandemic in the UK to date.
In others, they continued to attempt to inject some levity into the post – despite clear negative reactions from almost all of those interacting with them.
As the post above shows, this isn’t the first time Bristol Dry Gin has diced with controversy. In 2018, the brand was slammed for releasing its Novichok Edition vodka – its timing incredibly insensitive as it followed shortly after individuals were exposed to the toxic nerve agent in nearby Salisbury.
The distillery DID post an apology, but for many, it was seen as a case of too little, too late. Others were infuriated by the fact that the brand used this “apology” as an excuse to repeat the same phrase again, as well as to reference their product once more, clearly seeing it as additional marketing rather than genuine remorse.
Will this incident – and the Novichok Edition vodka incident previously – affect your likelihood to buy from the brand? FLIP on North Street have already said they will no longer be stocking the gin, while Wriggle has made a similar statement, removing them as a supplier from newly launched The Bristol Pantry. I sincerely hope that more do the same.