Marketing communications should not give a misleading impression about the country of origin of an alcoholic drink.

In 2011, an ad for Kronenbourg lager stated “FROM THE COUNTRY THAT BELIEVES IN THE LUNCH (TWO AND A HALF) HOUR”. This was followed by “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”, text then went on to discuss all stages of the lager’s production, “From a patient approach to hop growing, to the delicate handling of the drying procedure, not one part of the brewing process is rushed.” The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint on the grounds that the ad misleadingly implied that the lager was brewed in France whereas it was in fact brewed in the U.K. Despite the advertisers contention that the ad was intended to refer to the brands heritage the ASA considered that the claims appeared to suggest that all stages of the production of the lager took place in Eastern France, the complaint was therefore upheld (Heineken UK Ltd, 31 August 2011).

An ad in a trade magazine for Scottish Spirits was headed “Scottish Spirits Ltd – WWW.SCOTTISHSPIRITS.COM”. The ad showed a coat of arms and three different bottles of whisky, one of which stated “SCOTTISH SPIRIT”. The ASA investigated a complaint that the ad misleadingly implied that the product was Scotch whisky and that the company selling the product was Scottish. The ASA noted that there was no explicit reference to the whisky being Scotch or to the company being Scottish but considered the imagery used, particularly the coat of arms and the bottles and labels shown which were typical of those used by Scotch whisky brands, in conjunction with the company name, could cause ambiguity as to whether the product was Scotch whisky, the complaint was therefore upheld (Scottish Spirits Ltd, 15 September 2010).

Marketers should be careful when using claims that convey origin or heritage to ensure that they do not mislead about the location of production. In particular, marketers of products now made in the UK but originally produced elsewhere should consider carefully the use of claims such as “original” and “genuine”. The word “original” could imply that the product is made according to the original recipe and with ingredients that are identical to those that were used when it was first produced. “Genuine” could be acceptable if the UK-produced version is as close to the original overseas-produced version as is reasonable to expect.

Context will, of course, play a role in deciding whether the claims are acceptable. See also Alcohol: General and Alcohol: Promotional Marketing.

Source: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)

Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA.

CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.

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