The outdoor poster depicted a pint of Heineken in a Heineken glass against a backdrop of golden light. The glass was tilted and almost full to the top. One large beam of light shone directly into the glass. The accompanying headline read:
“TAP INTO STAR QUALITY”
The print featured in the bottom right hand corner of the advertisement, which was accompanied by a red star, read:
“Heineken open your world.”
The poster also contained the drink aware message “Enjoy responsibly” and invited consumers to “Please visit EnjoyHeinekenResponsibly.com”
The complainants, Alcohol Action Ireland, objected to the advertisement as they considered it implied through the use of the line “Tap into Star Quality” that those who drank Heineken could improve their personal qualities or capabilities and also suggested that it could make the drinker appear more attractive. They therefore considered the advertising to be in breach of the Code.
The advertisers said the campaign was entitled ‘Quality’ as this was one of the platforms which they used to communicate their process, rigour and adherence to quality that goes into producing the perfect pint. They said the line “Tap into Star Quality” referred to the “Tap” which they used to serve the beer and the ‘Star Quality’ referred to the premium process that was required, ranging from the quality ingredients to delivering the optimum serve each time. They said their secondary packaging also made reference to quality and this was clearly visible to consumers from the cap bottle to their cardboard packaging.
The advertisers said the use of the star had become an iconic brand association with Heineken and this was now a major part of their visual identity. They said they had also employed a programme entitled ‘Star Serve’, which included a defined set of steps to ensure consistent quality at all times. Therefore the use of the word ‘Star’ was purely in reference to this process and was not in fact referencing the consumer. They said as a company Heineken Ireland take their responsibilities towards alcohol consumption very seriously and adhere to the Codes in place in relation to alcohol advertising.
The Secretariat asked the advertisers to comment on the number of other definitions in place for ‘Star Quality’ which referred to personal qualities and success, given that this was the line complained of by Alcohol Action Ireland.
The advertisers reiterated that in developing this line they wanted to convey the fact that Heineken was a quality product. To convey this they had played on the word ‘Tap into’ (referring to their beer tap) and ‘Star Quality’ (referring to the quality of the beer) – Star referring to the Heineken brand. They said that referring to personal qualities and success would not be in keeping with the tone of their advertising nor would it be the desired message they wished to deliver through their advertising.
Complaint Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee considered the reference to ‘Star Quality’ and the most likely interpretation that could be taken of this particular advertisement. On balance they decided that the advertisement depicted the product being poured into a glass, and that the reference to “Tap into Star Quality” referred to the tap from which the product would be poured and the assurance the advertiser’s wished to convey about the quality of the product. They did not therefore, consider that the advertisement had breached Sections 7.4(a) and 7.4(c) of the Code.”
No further action required.