BrewDog accused of stealing marketing ideas

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by wesbray, May 12, 2019.

  1. William_Navidson

    William_Navidson Initiate (143) May 1, 2015 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    You're right, I'm drawing inferences based on the content and tone of your questions like, you know, all humans are prone to do. If you think any of those inferences have been unfair (of if you'd prefer to simply address the substance of my comments) please feel free to point out why! I've changed my mind in this thread more than once today, and said as much.

    If not, that's fine too.
     
    #121 William_Navidson, May 14, 2019
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  2. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (227) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    This whole thread is confusing.
     
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  3. stevepat

    stevepat Zealot (595) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Trader

    It seems like part of the point of the invoice for the interview process was to highlight just how over the top it was. Well over 20 hours of work seems a bit excessive for a talent assessment and I can definitely understand wanting to be compensated for that.
    Was she interviewing to be the head of their marketing team? (rhetorical, I am fairly certain she was not) It seems pretty ludicrous to expect a half of a work week to be done just to apply for the job. This reminds me more and more of the Rogue brewing vibe. Super exploitative faux rebel capitalist scum buckets
     
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  4. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (227) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    You can't tell the players without a program.

    What, if any, is the relationship between Jenny Guy, who submitted the invoice and wants to be compensated for her IP, and Manifest, the company in the linked article that wants to be compensated for their IP?

    Manifest claims Brewdog is using ideas they came up with during the "pitch process" while trying to land the account, she claims Brewdog is using ideas she came up with during "brainstorming sessions" while interviewing for a job.

    I'm confused about just whose ideas Brewdog is accused of appropriating?
     
  5. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (857) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Another article. It's mostly the same stuff we've been talking about, but there are few more people coming forward with similar experiences with BrewDog soliciting for marketing ideas without paying people. It's still all hearsay, though.
    https://www.boredpanda.com/brewing-company-fake-interviews-stealing-marketing-ideas/

    The problem is a "Talent Assessment" of one's ability to create ideas is not the same as completing physical tasks, mental calculations, or making sure personality is compatible. When the interviewer explicitly asks for marketing ideas related to their products (like BrewDog clearly did) they cannot unsee whatever is presented to them. If anything appears later that could potentially be derive from a "rejected" idea, there's no way to prove the idea wasn't purposely or inadvertently stolen. The ambiguity is avoided by paying people when you explicitly ask for marketing ideas. It's a simple concept the general public will respond predictably to, regardless of any mental gymnastics of lawyers and companies to say otherwise. Even if BrewDog had no intent to steal IP and did no legal wrong, it still seems to me to be incredibly stupid to put your multi-million-dollar public-facing company at risk like this when it's easily avoided.
    Agreed. However, stupidity does not shield you from the law or public opinion. Maybe this experience will help them, and possibly warn other companies with similar practices, to avoid the same or similar stupid mistake(s) in the future.

    And, needless to say, if IP theft was a calculated maneuver then BrewDog deserves anything that comes their way.
     
  6. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Thanks for finding that link. It's painting a much more coherent overall picture than has emerged in the discussion and earlier links, etc. in this thread. (Especially given some of the misunderstandings and knee-jerk anti-corporate, big must be bad reactions we've seen.)

    I absolutely agree that stupidity does not shield someone from public opinion nor should it. (Having encountered that myself...:slight_smile:). But as I pointed out in that earlier post, it has been my experience that when one is confronted with a situation where either studpidy or malicious intent can be an explantion I tend to start off favoring stupidity.
     
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  7. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,119) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    Certainly a false equivalence, and you know that. One is not merely an inference (that there is no dragon in your closet), but would require belief in something with absolutely no established precedent for existing in reality, or even the ability to be real according to the known laws of physics (unless you meant a Komodo Dragon).

    The other is a true inference where you are making an assumption about the motivation of an individual, which is shifty ground automatically. The natural mob mentality is to assume the worst about people and their individual motivations, which anecdotally I find is the exception rather than the rule. @drtth already mentioned the same bon mot about not attributing to malice what can be easily explained by stupidity, which is a philosophy to which I also adhere.

    It doesn't mean I don't think it is less likely than not that BD had less than pure intentions in cropping the photo - it's that "less likely than not" is not my personal standard for passing judgment (unlike your dragon analogy, which is not simply about probability, but truly about possibility). Given that the context they cut was about IP, which is not what she was complaining about, it's simply not a logical act of malice. It would make far more sense if they posted a redacted invoice where they highlighted fees that might seem exorbitant, but took care to crop more reasonable fees (or even the airline and hotel fees), to make her claim seem more frivolous and entitled. There is a logical disconnect between what they cropped, and the theoretical malicious aim - while simultaneously there exist logical explanations that do not require illogical malice.

    Short answer: I don't disagree that what you allege is possible, but I disagree with the assertion that it is certain or even significantly probable given only the evidence presented thus far. Further evidence could very easily sway my opinion on the matter (such as a claim by Ms. Frankart that BD did in fact use one of her ideas, or that she has heard from several others in the industry of such IP perfidy, and the cropping would thus be BD's attempt to defuse the claim ahead of time by diverting attention to the financial matter).
     
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  8. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    We actually have an alternative possiblity/interpretation for the cropping. The cropped version is basically redacted in that it contains absolutely no information which could be used to identify the sender. The "unredacted" version, posted 5-6 hours later allows identifcation of the sender. Thus it appears that BD did not "out" the sender, rather she seems to have "outed" herself.
     
    #128 drtth, May 14, 2019
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  9. William_Navidson

    William_Navidson Initiate (143) May 1, 2015 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    1. Dragon example: Of course this is a ridiculous false equivalence lol; I was only using an absurd example as a means to show why pointing out that an inference was taking place was far from some fatal flaw in my argument (like @drtth implied that it was, for some reason) and that reasonable inferences can be made (and are in fact necessary to make all the time).

    2. "Less likely than not is not my personal standard:" Thanks for explaining this, I think that does a great job at clarifying the disagreement. I think the surrounding context (i.e. BD being accused of practices where they either illegally (or at least wrongfully) use IP) lends important context to the "cropping" question. The tweet didn't take place in a vacuum.

    Again, I'll point out that the cropped photo was accompanied by text which clearly indicated that James wished to characterize the individual as someone solely seeking money. One would easily come to that conclusion based on the deleted portion of the photo.

    It's clear from the rest of the photo (and from what we know about the industry) that this is not the case, and that the invoice wasn't as much a direct plea for payment as much as it was a hopeful preservation of her creative output.

    James's cropping and the accompanying text appear to deliberately obscure this, don't they?

    3. "she has heard from several others in the industry of such IP perfidy, and the cropping would thus be BD's attempt to defuse the claim ahead of time by diverting attention to the financial matter"...

    Would anecdotes from IP lawyers and creative professionals in the industry indicating that such an invoice is a commonplace tactic used to preserve IP rights sway your opinion? ... because those anecdotes are informing my view of the matter, which I pointed out earlier. Or if I were to provide you links to IP lawyers providing advice to the public about this practice, would that sway your opinion?

    In any case, I appreciate you the thoughtful and clear response.

    [completely unrelated: had never heard "perfidy" before -- cool word]
     
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  10. meefmoff

    meefmoff Zealot (590) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    I appreciate the thought, nuance and benefit of the doubt that's being put in here, but honestly it seems like we've crossed into "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" territory at this point.
     
  11. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,119) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    Not particularly, as those anecdotes don't establish that BD is being accused of attempting to steal her IP, nor that she was trying to defend it - merely that including that clause in an invoice is common in the industry for defense of IP.

    Anecdotes that more than one firm have come forward to accuse BD of this tactic, however - or a claim by her to the same effect - yes, that would. Everything else is just ... messy, unclear.

    I really was hoping you had a pet Komodo dragon that occasionally got loose, and perhaps had wandered into your closet once before. :grinning:
     
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  12. Ostpies

    Ostpies Initiate (82) Nov 3, 2015 New Zealand (Aotearoa)

    No that's not how advertising works.

    I can't comment further because I don't have all the details of what was agreed to upfront.
     
  13. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    The scenario has to be modified just a bit. Check the date on the invoice. It was submitted in December just after the interview process was completed. Any stiffing of payment occurred after that invoice was submitted.
     
  14. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    The invoice for expenses and time spent during the job interview is dated in mid December. If it were expenses only it should have been paid within a few weeks. I suspect that being billed for what was job interview time gave the BD accountant a bit of a shock.
     
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,007) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Perhaps but that person could have still have promptly cut a check for the 700 bucks and perhaps include a quick note that the other itemized items would not be paid. Instead we have a situation where it is the middle of May and the lady still has not been properly compensated for her travel expense.

    Cheers!
     
  16. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Yes, you've got it right, that's the way we'd expect it to work. So the unanswered question is why things did not happen that way. Personally I've been a situation where it took 4 months to get reimbursed just for travel expenses and even longer for the agreed upon consulting fees to be paid and I actually had made my pitch and had a contract in place before starting the work. Ultimately the problem turned out to have been a screw up in a piece of accounting software.
     
    #136 drtth, May 15, 2019
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  17. southdenverhoo

    southdenverhoo Disciple (370) Aug 13, 2004 Colorado

    Yeah it’s always “the accounting software.”
     
  18. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Slow pay is half way down the road of no pay.
     
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  19. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    The sad thing is that sometimes, even today, it actually is the software.
     
  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,007) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Thank you for your post here. I personally was not buying the "accounting software" aspect but in this thread there seems to be a 'debate' about "stupidity" vs. "evil intent". For the instance of BrewDog I personally do not agree that the lack of compensation of travel expenses is attributable to "stupidity". I am confident that other BAs will have their own views here.

    Cheers!
     
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  21. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    That's good since the actual probability of the accounting software being at fault is actually quite small. The anecdote I was describing in my earlier post was the only time that ever happened in my case.
     
    #141 drtth, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
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  22. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,119) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    @drtth @JackHorzempa @southdenverhoo

    It's not always an accounting glitch - sometimes the machinery of installed bureaucracy provides its own glitch, so to speak.

    We have all dealt with the middle manager who simply "couldn't" effect a relatively simple change, for whatever reason (usually their own understanding of company policy). Sometimes, this legitimately is due to software limitations (typically poor foresight on the part of the company).

    Two quick examples:

    1) My bank recently locked out my checking account (due to an error on their part), placing it in a debit-only status, without notifying me. I discovered this issue after I had three checks (in a three day period) "bounce" and my water turned off - despite having more than sufficient funds on hand. The bank's own policies suggest this is not only OK, but that there is no recourse. I am, basically, just "fooked" (perhaps not official company lingo), in terms of late fees, rejection fees, and potential credit impact. No software glitch necessary; no malice necessary; simply asinine bureaucracy taking to an absurd level.

    2) I once had to take an assignment where the per diem did not actually cover my hotel costs, based on a pre-existing contract that ensured my employer would compensate the hotel at a rate that I was not, as an employee, guaranteed up front. Of course, I would be reimbursed on the back end, but I had to front around $1300 during the course of my stay.

    Naturally, it was not that simple, and it took months to get my back pay - months of fighting against a machine not used to, well, thinking. Someone in a tighter financial situation could have been royally screwed, waiting - and hoping, perhaps praying - for compensation for money they should never have been required to pay up front (essentially an interest-free loan to the employer).

    Again, no software glitch necessary; no human malice. Just ordinary humans inflexibly following instructions. Surely, that's never gone poorly before.

    TL/DR/TOO LATE (:stuck_out_tongue:): It does not require some esoteric situation or statistical anomaly to explain why something as simple as not having your own freaking money might occur. Quite often, the answer is rather banal, perhaps bordering on Kafkaesque, which requires no ill intent. Ms. Frankart not being compensated for travel and lodging in a timely manner is in no way anomalous, as sad as it is to say.
     
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  23. schteve

    schteve Aspirant (207) Sep 10, 2003 New Jersey

    It's called spec work and it's rampant in the industry. Those types of contests are bullshit and breed lazy design and stolen ideas. Same with all those $99 logo sites and others like fiverr.

    But on the surface, this looks more egregious. It's not just rook rubes to get free work, often ripped right from other designers' portfolios. It's the pretense of a hiring gig with a rejection, and then using said rejected work.

    Not taking sides in this argument since there still seems like a lot of facts missing, just jumping in to say "spec work = the devil".
     
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  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,007) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Sounds like two experiences where you have a genuine beef. I personally would support you criticizing those entities which performed poorly here.

    Cheers!
     
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  25. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,119) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    Haha, I definitely have been (one was quite recent). A recurring theme, however, was how powerless individuals in the corporate food chain, if you will, were to provide any assistance. Also, sadly, many entities (corporate or otherwise) are clearly beyond consequence.

    In the first case, every individual I talked to, over two weeks, insisted it was impossible to find out what transactions were affected by their own action. Despite it not remotely being my area of expertise, it was all I could do to not scream at them that, quite simply, this is not how digital handshakes work - it is in fact, quite possible to know this information!

    Finally, I found one individual with the requisite knowledge (vice procedural script, with which we are all familiar when calling tech support - "OK, I am going to need to you power off your router....."), and she was able to provide me with the data I needed within 2 minutes - the information I knew was available all along.

    Both are classic examples of not attributing malice to acts of stupidity. In neither case did individuals have anything to gain by deceit or malice. They simply found themselves quickly out of their depth, and the easiest action in that case is ... inaction. Doing nothing is less likely to get you in trouble than doing something wrong, and when you don't know what "right" looks like, all actions are weighted heavily toward being wrong.
     
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  26. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Makes my one experience seem both tame and rare...
     
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  27. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    This “powerlessness” sounds all too familiar to me...

    Even the Army had fewer problems with that than what I’ve seen since. :slight_smile:
     
    #147 drtth, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
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  28. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,119) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    I could easily have gone on for pages (it's been a .... frustrating .... few weeks), but I think even scant details still suffice to emphasize the point that people need not go searching for ill intent simply because of poor results. Often - and regardless of magnitude - people getting "screwed over" has little to do with sociopathy, and far more to do with incompetence, inefficiency, apathy, etc.

    Ms. Frankart not getting reimbursed for travel after seven months? Sad to say, I'm not only not shocked, I'm a little surprised she wasn't asked by the accountants to brew up a batch of craft beer. :wink:
     
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  29. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,551) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Trader

    Don't have to be a lawyer to know the "honest mistake" excuse is always in play unless there is direct, overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Even in a case like this, where there is no reason to think it was an honest mistake, and there is reason to suspect the opposite.
     
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  30. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Well, since nobody was suggesting that an honest mistake was made I think we can agree that that is not on the table.
     
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  31. William_Navidson

    William_Navidson Initiate (143) May 1, 2015 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    Don't people usually correct their honest mistakes and/or apologize? Doesn't the text accompanying the picture directly undermine the possibility that this is an honest mistake?

    I'm perfectly willing to admit that there's a .01% chance that this is somehow a misunderstanding -- I simply have no clue why people are so generously affording BD the benefit of the doubt based on the surrounding context and past events. Maybe you can give voice to this extreme generosity (which obviously comes at the expense of the aggrieved interviewee)?
     
  32. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,551) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Trader

    The surrounding context is certainly hard to get by except to claim it was an honest mistake.
     
  33. William_Navidson

    William_Navidson Initiate (143) May 1, 2015 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    Genuinely curious and not meaning to sound rude: but it looks like you're on the side of "too close to call" even given the surrounding context, the lack of a correction or apology, etc... maybe you can explain why that is? Once again, I'm completely open to the fact that honest mistakes happen... but we don't have much (if any) evidence pointing us to that direction, and we have plenty pointing us towards the "malice" direction. Or am I mis-characterizing your perspective?
     
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  34. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,551) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Trader

    Not at all, I find it the least likely explanation, given the surrounding context. I only meant to say it seems to be the only excuse that could make it seem to be innocent.
     
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  35. William_Navidson

    William_Navidson Initiate (143) May 1, 2015 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    Ah, that makes perfect sense -- thanks for clarifying. Like I said before, I agree that it is a potential explanation even if the chances of it are infinitesimal. I'm still not quite sure I see the reasoning behind @drtth 's claim that it is "more likely" than not that this scenario is better explained by "stupidity" or an honest mistake than it is explained by malice.

    *And just as an aside, to clarify: when I say "malice" I don't mean that "James of BrewDog, the individual" is somehow "evil" or anything even close to that. That was my mistake earlier by simply labeling him as "James"... I mean the BrewDog organization as a whole, which I think is fairly different. I don't know "James."
     
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  36. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I always felt sorry for the kid whose dog really did eat the homework.
     
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  37. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (227) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    The policies and software my municipality used couldn't handle documenting and paying part of an invoice. If there was any disputed charge the whole thing, including legitimate charges, got kicked back (or ignored for as long as possible).
     
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  38. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Disciple (337) Sep 4, 2014 Illinois
    Society

    I'm clearly late to the party and I DO have a lot of issues (on both sides) with how this whole episode seems to have unfolded, but I did want to address this particular part of the candidate assessment. Frankly, I think this is completely appropriate for this type of work, and could be a very informative question if assessed properly. Here are some of the things I'd be looking for in a candidate:
    - Are they familiar enough with the brand portfolio to propose a beer that compliments, rather than duplicates or cannibalizes an existing beer?
    - Can they position this new beer in a way that aligns with our current marketing?
    - Does their launch/go-to-market strategy make sense in terms of feasibility and our overall posture/position?
    To me, this question is all about putting together a new product launch, so you wouldn't ask a candidate to work on an existing product (they've already been launched), nor would you reveal anything that is actually "in the works." I guess you could give them a dummy beer name, but requiring them to come up with one is more informative.

    TL;DR: Everything else that happened in the "interview" process reads like a two-sided train wreck, but I'm OK with this particular question.
     
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  39. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

  40. BayAreaJoe

    BayAreaJoe Champion (866) Nov 23, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    Small article on the resolution:

    https://www.prweek.com/article/1584823/manifest-brewdog-amicably-resolve-punk-af-ip-dispute

    Anyway I read in a different article how Manifest really bit their Punk AF design off another marketing group that put out a strikingly similar looking AF campaign for another company six months earlier. Manifest's guy tried to defend himself on twitter but it seemed far-fetched. Funny that they got called out after calling out BrewDog.
     
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