Kronenbourg 1664 ad banned for emphasising 'misleading' French connection

Kronenbourg 1664: ad starring Eric Cantona is banned by the ASA
Kronenbourg 1664: ad starring Eric Cantona is banned by the ASA

Heineken UK has been banned by the ad watchdog from emphasising the connection between its Kronenbourg 1664 brand and France, as the beer is not only brewed in the UK, but the majority of the hops in the recipe are grown outside France.

The ad campaign, created by Ogilvy & Mather, featured a TV ad starring Eric Cantona, who said: "Here in Alsace, things are a little bit different. The hop farmers are treated like the footballers of Britain. They are idolised and adored. And why not? They are living legends. They are the men that grow the noble hops that make Kronenbourg the taste supreme."

On-screen text for the ad stated, "Brewed in the UK", while the press ad said: "If you find a better tasting French beer, we’ll eat our Berets. The French know a thing or two about taste. That’s why Kronenbourg 1664 is always brewed with the aromatic Strisselspalt hop for a Taste Supreme."

Heineken countered the two complaints by stating that Kronenbourg 1664 was an "inherently French beer" and had been brewed since 1952 in Alsace by Brasseries Kronenbourg, to celebrate its founder.

The company said that in the UK, the beer was brewed to a French recipe, and that the "Frenchness" was an integral part of the brand regularly communicated to consumers, even after Heineken acquired it in 2008.

The Advertising Standards Authority banned the ads however, as the "brewed in the UK" message attached to the ads contradicted rather than clarified the message of the ad.

The regulator also said that the emphasis on the ingredient Strisselspalt implied that it was the main hop used within the beer, when it does not in fact constitute a significant majority of the total hops used in the recipe for the beer.

The ASA told Heineken to take care not to emphasise a connection with France to the extent that Kronenbourg is brewed in the country, or that most of its ingredients are grown there, either. 

A spokesperson for Heineken said the company was disappointed about the ruling, adding that it has never tried to hide the fact that Kronenbourg 1664 is brewed in the UK.

He said:  "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 theonly hop used, but we feel strongly that we should be able to celebrate the important role that this particular ingredient plays.

Heineken has taken the ads down but said it has already submitted a request to the Independent Reviewer of ASA Adjudications for the ad to be reconsidered, as the company believes there are "significant flaws" in the ruling. 

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