The U.K. Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has upheld two complaints alleging that Heineken UK Ltd.’s print and TV advertisements gave the impression that its Kronenbourg 1664 beer was brewed in France and made primarily from French hops, despite text disclaimers stating that the product was “Brewed in the UK.”
According to the February 12, 2014, ruling, the ads in question touted Kronenbourg 1664 as a “French beer… brewed with the aromatic Strisselspalt hop” sourced from Alsace, France. Although Heineken noted in its response that “Kronenbourg 1664 was an inherently French beer… first brewed in 1952 in Alsace by Brasseries Kronenbourg,” ASA ultimately agreed with complainants that the print ad’s “degree of emphasis… on the connection with France would lead consumers to believe that the entire brewing and manufacturing process took place in that country,” while the TV ad’s focus on the Strisselspalt hop “implied that all, or a significant majority of, hops used in the brewing process were sourced from France.”
To this end, the ruling found that the “Brewed in the UK” disclaimers “contradicted rather than clarified the main message of the ad.” Dismissing Heineken’s arguments that “the beer’s ‘Frenchness’ was an integral part of the brand that had been regularly communicated to consumers… and would not be a new concept for the general public,” the agency also pointed to documentation showing that the Strisselspalt hop “did not constitute a significant majority of the total hops used in the recipe for the beer.” As ASA thus concluded, “We told Heineken UK Ltd. to take care not to emphasize a
connection with France to the extent that their ads implied that Kronenbourg 1664 was brewed in France, or that all or most of the hops used in the recipe were grown in France.”
Meanwhile, Heineken has reportedly requested an independent review of the adjudication, citing “significant flaws” in ASA’s reasoning. “We are clearly very disappointed about the ruling,” a spokesperson told Marketing Week. “Kronen- bourg 1664 is French by any reasonable measure, including brand ownership, history, heritage, and the authentic recipe used. We have never made any secret that it is also brewed in the UK, and this fact is clearly communicated within the two commercials that were challenged and on every bottle and can.” See Marketing Week, February 12, 2014.