In September, Frank PR sent a press release saying the UK will be “beered up redneck style” and promising Trump supporters free Scofflaw beer at BrewDog bars. The press release was sent out without authorization from Matt Shirah, the CEO of Scofflaw Brewing Co. Shirah claimed the press released was inaccurate and further stressed the company does not and has never endorsed Donald Trump.
Whilst the retraction from Scofflaw was swift, the scandal erupted on both the media and social media. This resulted in BrewDog immediately terminating its distribution deal with Scofflaw. Following the incident, Frank PR issued a statement publicly apologizing for the blunder and an employee has since been suspended. Scofflaw will apparently no longer work with Frank PR, and the beer company has turned to Dentons to explore legal action against the PR agency. Scofflaw indicated another source of frustration during the incident was BrewDog’s response as the bar did not approach Scofflaw to repair their relationship even after it was revealed Scofflaw was not responsible for the rogue release. Manifest, BrewDog’s PR agency, said it halted the partnership after the release of the statement, however, it had reiterated its support for Scofflaw after the facts came out.
Shirah said his business was “thrown under several busses at one time” and Frank PR did not think it was legally obliged to get client approval before issuing a release. “I expect it was naive of me to believe that they would have, or should have a certain duty of care when it comes to releasing messages that can have a global impact on a client’s brand, especially given the current political environment”, said Shirah.
In relation to the legal action, a spokesperson from Frank PR responded, “We are sorry that Scofflaw has decided to get its lawyers involved in this matter, and that as a result, we have been forced to instruct lawyers ourselves.” After reading about the scandal, Media House International Executive Chairman Jack Irvine said he approached Shirah. “I said to Shirah that we could help you get through this and help you out, not just in PR, but I know a lot of people in the brewing and whiskey industry. My remit is to get them through this period, get re-established and hopefully strike a new distribution deal in Britain”, said Irvine.
Media House International specialized in PR, crisis communications and public affairs. Irvine considers Scofflaw to be a producer of high-quality product run by professional people, and he is confident he can find a new distribution route in the UK market for Scofflaw. “He’s a finance industry veteran with significant experience in the Big Four accounting environment and the beverage industry. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Along with his legal team in London, I am going to help him resolve this mess and introduce him to beer distributors who know what they’re doing,” added Irvine.
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