Ban on Cantona advert reversed
A ban on an advert for Kronenbourg 1664 featuring former Manchester United star Eric Cantona has been reversed after it was ruled that references to its French origins did not mislead consumers.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the press and television ads in February after it found that they falsely implied that the brewing and all of the hop production takes place in France.
But an independent reviewer recommended the ASA reverse the decision following an appeal by parent company Heineken UK, and the watchdog has subsequently ruled that consumers would understand the beer's association with France despite it being brewed in the UK.
The press ad said: "If you find a better tasting French beer, we'll eat our berets", and continued: "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."
The television ad, featuring Cantona, 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."
Small print in both ads read: "Brewed in the UK".
The ASA received two complaints, one that the ad misleadingly implied that Kronenbourg 1664 was brewed in France and a second that it misleadingly implied that the hops used to produce the beer were grown in France.
Heineken UK said Kronenbourg 1664 was "an inherently French beer" that had first been brewed in 1952 in Alsace by Brasseries Kronenbourg and was now brewed under licence in the UK in a process supervised and approved by Brasseries Kronenbourg.
The company said Kronenbourg 1664 was brewed with the Strisselspalt hop, which to the best of their knowledge was only grown commercially in Alsace, France, and which had been the major aroma hop produced in the area since 1885.
They believed that Kronenbourg 1664 could correctly and reasonably be described as a "French beer" because of its heritage, the origin of its recipe and the use of the Strisselspalt hop, as well as its ownership and the yeast type used.
Following Heineken's appeal, the ASA said it understood that the Strisselspalt hop used in Kronenbourg 1664 was grown in France but that the brewing process took place in the UK, and noting that the beer had originally been produced in France and that a French company still had oversight of its production today.
The ASA said: "We considered it would be acceptable to describe the product as 'French' if the ad made clear on what basis that claim was made", adding that the focus of the ad was on the hops used to produce the beer rather than the brewing process itself.
It said: "Because we were satisfied that consumers would understand the association with France in the context of one of the ingredients used rather than the location of production, and because the ad contained clarification that the beer was brewed in the UK, we concluded that the ad was not misleading.
"We considered that the ad, including the statement that hop farmers in Alsace 'are the men that grow the noble hops that make Kronenbourg the taste supreme' implied that the distinctive taste of the product was derived from hops grown in France, but did not go so far as to indicate that all hops used to make the beer were sourced from that country.
"On that basis, and because we were satisfied that the Strisselspalt hops used in Kronenbourg 1664 were sourced from Alsace, France, we concluded that the ad was not misleading."