Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw beer bottles.

Work Labs is mad and they're taking it to the interwebs. According to their site they are convinced their campaign concept for craft brew Work Beer was stolen by another agency for a different beer.

If you look at the first set of ads (and the rest on their site) it does seem to be a prime Badland candidate. Same headline. Same work-inspired art direction.

Further reading explains the kerfuffle. It seems Work Labs showed their Work Beer ads to New Belgium Brewery, who then may or may not have gotten their current agency of record to create work in the same playground.

Why were they showing the ads to breweries to begin with? Because the Work Beer brewery, Main Street Beer, went out of business. So, believing in the long legs of their campaign idea, and their product, Work Labs set out to find a new brewery to market their brand.

Choose your own side. We'd rather crack open a cold one and muse on other things. Most notably the trend in ad agencies creating their own beers.

This may very well have started with Neil French's, XO a fictitious beer designed to sell The Straits Times. Which then launched as a real beer, due to demand. Which also makes Neil French the first Meta-Advertiser. Which must have been crazy back then.
But now there's a whole slew of 'em.

Edinburgh-based The Leith Agency has its own beer.

Uk based content agency Gravity Road has its own beer.

Arnold has several beers and a vending machine.

Pocket Hercules has its own beer.

Hell, even a copywriter friend of mine brews his own beer and has been for a few years now.

Now let's look at the campaign idea of both Work Beer and Shift beer. Both use the "You worked hard, you deserve a beer," strategy. How original is it?

You deserve it after removing snow.

You deserve it after mucking about with snow. Again.

You deserve it after shutting up douche bags in their Heineken Fridge.

You deserve it after doing heroic things.

Conclusion: Not very. But with the exception of snow removal as metaphor for hard work, none of these ads (including Work Beer) are using the same executions.

Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Dabitch's picture

So, @worklabs is taking to every soapbox they can find (including ihaveanidea, as has been pointed out to me) about his case. And I can see how they would raise their eyebrows at first glance when seeing the Shift campaign but as you've so clearly shown... Their nice looking campaign isn't all that original.

It's far better executed IMHO tho, the gritty silvery b/w look is yaknow, hard steel cool. I like it. But the fonts that are similar... Shift beer was already using that (on the can!). The lines that are similar..... seriously guys are you claiming the invention of colloquial language like "job well done" and "clock out"? The strategy (you deserve a beer now) has been done since the invention of beer.

So while it might be a copy, it seems more likely a case of input effects the output. The strategy born from the same proposition births the same lines. I mean if you're going to copy the sleek looking flowchart Worklabs did, why make it less good?

Or in short, sometimes badlanders just happen, man.

Full disclosure - I really like Fat Tire Red beer from Shift's brewery New Belgium.

kidsleepy's picture

I agree. I think a well executed campaign. And no doubt deserved the accolades it received.

BUT as evidenced from's extensive database of commercials, it's a very tried strategy. Since everyone drinks beer after 5 it's low-hanging fruit. It can't even lay claim to the "working class beer," unfortunately, which has also been done.

They look nice, though.

Dabitch's picture

When did Neil French make his XO beer btw? You know the one, the fake high alcohol dark brew (which went against what all research said was popular at the time) he used to advertise the power of print campaigns for The Straits Times? Remember this campaign? Well, what happened was, the beer nobody supposedly wanted was suddenly asked for in every bar in Singapore so Niel & Agency had to brew it. Or so the story went when he lectured at the SCA in London in 1993 back when I was a young ad student.

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