A national press ad, for beer, featured a picture of a glass of Kronenbourg 1664 alongside the headline "FROM THE COUNTRY THAT BELIEVES IN THE LUNCH (TWO AND A HALF) HOUR". Text underneath stated "The French are famous for many things, hurrying isn't one of them. So naturally a beer from Strasbourg, Eastern France is made rather slowly. From a patient approach to hop growing, to the delicate handling of the drying procedure, not one part of the brewing process is rushed. Make sure the drinking process is the same".
The complainant challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that Kronenbourg 1664 was brewed in France, whereas he understood it was brewed in the UK.
Heineken UK Ltd (Heineken) said the aim of the ad was to highlight the heritage of Kronenbourg 1664, which originated in Strasbourg in 1664 and was brewed using the Strisselspalt variety of hops unique to that region of France. They said the nature of the beer was such that it needed to be brewed slowly.
Heineken said they believed Kronenbourg was French in origin, by virtue of the fact that the Kronenbourg brand was steeped in French heritage (it was first brewed in France and its reputation built there), it had the taste and strength of a typical lager from continental Europe, and the hops that were used to make the beer were imported from France. Heineken said they believed consumers would distinguish between the provenance of a brand of beer, as referred to in the ad, and the location where that beer was brewed. They did not believe that lager drinkers in the UK would be misled by the ad.
Heineken said many products developed a brand identity by creating a link in consumers’ minds between the place where the product originated and the product on sale in the UK today. They said geographic signifiers were an important indicator of the type of product consumers were buying, yet consumers were aware that a product marketed as being ‘from’ a particular country may not have been made there. Heineken said Kronenbourg relied on such a signifier; it was a French lager, which consumers saw as French, whether it was brewed in Strasbourg or the UK.
The ASA noted that the ad aimed to promote the French heritage and culture associated with the Kronenbourg brand. However, we considered that the claim “So naturally a beer from Strasbourg, Eastern France is made rather slowly. From a patient approach to hop growing, to the delicate handling of the drying procedure, not one part of the brewing process is rushed” implied that the whole process of making the beer, from hop growing to the finished product, took place in Eastern France. We considered that consumers were therefore likely to understand from the ad that Kronenbourg 1664 was brewed in France, and because we understood that was not the case we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Heineken not to imply that Kronenbourg was brewed in France.