As podcasting continues to grow in popularity, brands are catching on to the power of podcast advertising not just as a money-making tool, but as a cost-effective way to spread brand awareness. There are several ways that brands can advertise on podcasts, from programmatic spot advertising to host-read ads, but among the most effective is creative, long-term collaboration between brands and podcasters.
Putting in the effort to work closely with a podcast that reflects the identity and message of the brand can provide many advantages, including the ability to tap into an already-engaged fanbase that extends beyond the podcast format. One example of a brand that has done this successfully is beer company BrewDog, which launched a long-running partnership with That Peter Crouch Podcast in 2022.
The initial partnership included the creation of a bespoke limited edition beer called the ‘Laout’: a combination of a lager and a stout, which Crouch would often mention as his own unique creation on the podcast prior to partnering with BrewDog. The brand ended up brewing the ‘Laout’ in just a five week period, with fans of the podcast getting involved in every stage of the brewing process. When it was eventually brought to market, the product sold out in just two days following the release.
“The reality is that sometimes these opportunities present themselves and you just have to take them because the opportunity just was an open goal,” says BrewDog’s head of content Richard Innes. “I almost couldn't believe our luck; all the stars had aligned and it was just a case of jumping on it in the right way.”
During a session with PodPod at The Podcast Show this year, Innes and Jon Goldsmith, managing director of BrewDog’s communications agency Craft Media, announced that the brand would be renewing its partnership with That Peter Crouch Podcast. The result is a much bigger and broader campaign that will last seven months, currently running until the end of this year, incorporating learnings from the first phase of the partnership.
Figuring out your goals
Before investing in the podcasting space, Goldsmith says, brands must first figure out what their purpose is and what they’re trying to achieve. BrewDog is not a brand that struggles with awareness by any means - the multinational brewery and pub chain is a household name, with branches scattered across the UK. However, the brand did want to achieve the specific goal of making its products more visible to mainstream audiences, and overriding the perception that it’s only targeted at a niche audience of craft beer fans.
“From a business perspective, we know that the lager presented a huge opportunity for Brewdog,” says Goldsmith. “The brand is seen as a craft beer manufacturer and not as a lager producer. The lager market is about 8% of total beer sales, and Brewdog makes up 2% of that. Audience was really important - it was an opportunity to open up a new audience group for BrewDog and the brand.”
Innes' background in media also helped shape the tone of the campaign, having worked in senior commercial content positions across multiple publishing houses including Reach, the Daily Mirror, and Bauer Media. Prior to joining BrewDog, Innes would run the digital side of branded content campaigns, and recognises that authenticity is key to making them successful.
“In my old job, I would always be saying it really has to feel authentic,” said Innes. “The amount of times I would go back to people and say ‘you just want to buy advertising;. If that's what you want to do, you want to broadcast a message, then buy advertising - but this isn't branded content. You want an advert.”
“From my experience, I've had a lot of years of experience working within branded content in that space so the opportunity to do something that was completely native and completely organic and completely real was massive.”
That Peter Crouch Podcast started its life on BBC Sounds, before moving to Acast in search of greater revenue opportunities without the strictures of BBC advertising rules. BrewDog was the first ever commercial partner to work with the podcast following the switch, which presented both a challenge and opportunity for the brand.
There was no set framework for the partnership to follow, which meant everything had to be devised from scratch, requiring close collaboration between all four players - BrewDog, Acast, Craft Media, and the podcast team.
This also meant, however, that there was room for more innovation, with everyone open to playing around with ideas which extended beyond traditional forms of podcast advertising - such as bringing the ‘Laout’ to life. Moving forward for the second phase of the campaign, BrewDog aimed to continue this spirit of innovation in other ways which captured the essence of the brand.
Tapping into an engaged fanbase
One important aspect of BrewDog’s first campaign with That Peter Crouch Podcast was the involvement of the fans throughout every stage of bringing the Laout to life, from pitching ideas for the strapline to designing the can’s artwork, and even crowdsourcing a jingle.
These listener interactions weren’t initially planned as part of the campaign, but instead ended up happening very organically. Innes said that recognising how important listener participation was to the campaign - which only ran for 12 weeks, including the five-week period it took to create the Laout - was a huge learning curve for the brand, and as soon as they realised how engaged the fans were, he wanted to make sure to leverage that in the next stage of the campaign.
“When you start working for Peter Crouch and his podcast, you realise his fans are absolutely insane,” says Goldsmith. “For us, we didn't really realise how passionate it was but as soon as that penny dropped for us, we realised we really need to lean into this fanbase. A learning for us was to work with passionate fan bases as a starting point and get them involved.”
Having recognised the power of the podcast’s fanbase, BrewDog wanted to continue to serve the audience it built in the first phase, but create a broader campaign for the second phase of the partnership that can promote BrewDog’s existing core range.
This includes classic host-read sponsorship ads from Crouch, highlighting one select beer per month. The campaign also aims to keep the fans engaged by providing them with interactive opportunities, such as having listeners send in voice notes of them singing or doing impressions related to the beer being spotlighted that month.
“What we've done in this campaign is find ways to naturally and organically talk about our products,” says Innes. “The key for us is to bring that awareness of those products to all. What we wanted to do is make sure that we were encompassing the whole BrewDog brand experience and bringing in every part of the brand.”
Expanding into new formats
The new campaign gave BrewDog an opportunity to make itself the new home of That Peter Crouch Podcast, allowing the hosts to record episodes on-location at the podcast studio within its flagship bar in Waterloo, in both video and audio formats. This has the added bonus of giving more visibility to the brand in a way that feels more natural and engaging.
It also provides more opportunities for fans to interact with the podcast, with many visiting the bar, watching from outside the recording studios and even getting selfies with the hosts afterwards.
“The guys love it; they come in and they have a few beers of whatever beer they're talking about that month,” says Innes. “They love the chicken wings, they love the burgers, and they always hang around after the recording and have a few drinks.”
As part of the new campaign, BrewDog is also hosting monthly events at its Waterloo bar which give fans a chance to ask Crouch questions about his career and even participate in beer pong tournaments with him and his fellow hosts. Listeners can win tickets for these events by purchasing a 12-pack of whichever beer is currently being promoted via the partnership.
“[The podcast] is about that feeling of being part of the gang, and that's kind of what we've tried to tap into,” says Innes. “Because if you're going to do something with a podcast or any other channel, then you need to tap into what's unique and what's best about that channel.”
“Part of the appeal is that [Crouch] is somebody that everybody loves; he’s a bit of a national treasure type.It’s quite nice for us - and that’s kind of what we’re trying to buy into and have some of that rub off on the brand.”