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SAB welcomes ASA ruling on complaints by Brandhouse

2 August 2010

2 August 2010

ASA dismisses eight out of nine complaints

[Johannesburg, 2 August 2010] The South African Breweries Ltd (SAB) has welcomed the recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regarding a complaint lodged against the company by brandhouse Beverages.

The complaint concerned SAB's "bigger is better" campaign by Carling Black Label which brandhouse claimed were misleading and inaccurate. The ASA today dismissed all aspects of the complaint, bar one.

SAB strategy director Harald Harvey welcomed the ASA ruling, saying that the ruling vindicated SAB's approach to doing business in a manner that focuses on working for consumers, retailers and South African society.

"This is a really a victory for consumers and retailers, and we will continue to speak up when we feel that consumers and retailers are being misled," he said.

"We believe in challenging competitors fairly and with the kind of passion and honesty that has characterised SAB since our foundation 115 years ago. We are committed to playing hard, but fair, and always ensuring that consumers and retailers are well informed of their choices".

The advertising campaigns from SAB in question were the Carling Black Label ‘Bigger is Better' campaign, aimed at members of the public; and the ‘Demand More' campaign, aimed at retailers. Both are designed to inform the market about the recent downsizing of the Amstel quart bottle.

SAB argued that the advertisements in question were made and published in order to address the changes made to the Amstel product by brandhouse and its alleged failure to communicate these changes to consumers, retailers and the public at large.

The essence of the complaint from brandhouse was that although there is a difference in liquid contents in the 750ml and 660ml Amstel bottles, it is not significant as the size of the bottles themselves are similar.

The ASA has ruled that SAB did not misstate the difference in volume or make misleading claims, but rather that the claims from brandhouse could be considered misleading. The ASA ruling stated that brandhouse was attempting to ‘...deflect emphasis away from the fact that the new bottle contains 90ml less beer, by concentrating on the size of the bottle, as opposed to the difference in volume. Indeed it would appear that the complainants are attempting to disguise or minimise the fact that there is less beer in the 660ml bottle by using thicker glass...'

Of the nine complaints by brandhouse only one was partially upheld by the ASA, which is the ruling that although the claims made by SAB were objective, fair and true, they had used four words which were felt to be emotive.


For further information contact Robyn Chalmers on (011) 881 8679/082 924 2267 or Benedict Maaga on 011 881 8478/079 890 7300.
Background information

Diageo-Heineken-Namibian Breweries, collectively known as brandhouse Beverages, challenged SAB's Carling Black Label's ‘Bigger is Better' advertising campaign via the ASA. In addition, they challenged SAB's recent retail communication called ‘Demand More' which is designed to inform the market about the recent downsizing of the Amstel quart bottle and the true facts about the new crates.

SAB first lodged a complaint with the ASA earlier this year against claims made by brandhouse to retailers on the margins they would make on the Amstel quart bottles versus mainstream quart bottles.

The campaign by brandhouse was running with retailers and taverners and included claims made by the company that taverners will make higher margins on Amstel quart bottles than on mainstream quart bottles.

SAB lodged a second complaint with the Advertising Standard Authority in May as it was concerned that Amstel was continuing to use misleading advertising material even after parent company brandhouse had given an undertaking to the ASA in March this year to withdraw this material. This was dismissed by the ASA in June, which SAB has appealed against.

The ASA is expected to rule on SAB's recent appeal soon.

This is a SABMiller subsidiary news release, first published in its local market on [02/08/2010].

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