Heineken launches challenge to Kronenbourg ad ban

Kronenbourg 1664 owner Heineken has said it is “very disappointed” with the ad watchdog’s decision to ban two marketing campaigns for overemphasising its connection to France and has submitted a request for an independent review of the ruling.

Video: Banned Kronenbourg 1664 TV ad starring Eric Cantona


In January 2013 the premium beer brand partnered with former France international footballer Eric Cantona for a year-long multi-million pound marketing push aiming to position the brand as a reward for men who put taste first.

A TV ad depicted Cantona explaining how the men of Alsace, France are “treated like the footballers of Britain” because they grow the “noble hops” that make Kronenbourg. On screen text in the corner of the screen stated “Brewed in the UK”.

Elsewhere a press ad for the brand, carrying the strapline “If you find a better tasting French beer, we’ll eat our berets”, went on to explain how French beer apparently tastes better because it uses a Strisselpalt hop, which is used to brew Kronenbourg 1664. Small print in the bottom corner of the page stated “Brewed in the UK”.

The campaign received two complaints, claiming the ads were misleading because they implied Kronenbourg 1664 was brewed in France and that the hops used to produced the beer were grown in France.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the degree of emphasis in the TV ad on the connection with France would lead consumers to believe the entire brewing and manufacturing process took place there. The watchdog added that the small print stating the beer was brewed in the UK “contradicted, rather than clarified” the main message of the ad.

Similarly, while the ASA acknowledged documentation supplied by Heineken that the Strisselspalt hop was sourced from the Alsace region of France, it did not constitute a significant majority of the total used in the recipe for the beer. The press ad too was ruled misleading.

The ASA has told Heineken not to emphasise a connection with France to the extent that Kronenbourg 1664 is brewed there or that the majority of the hops used in the recipe are grown in the region in future ads.

Heineken told Marketing Week it has already submitted a request to the independent reviewer of ASA Adjudications as it believe there a “significant flaws” with the ruling.

A spokesman added: “We are clearly very disappointed about the ruling. We work to the highest standards when we create our TV commercials and we take every care to operate within the letter and spirit of the relevant industry codes.

“Kronenbourg 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.

“The Strisselspalt hop is a key ingredient, but it is very common in brewing to use a variety of hops to create the final unique taste of a beer. Again, we have never claimed or implied the Strisselspalt is the only hop used, but we feel strongly that we should be able to celebrate the important role that this particular ingredient plays.”

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