13 July 2022, Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP
Alcohol producer Heineken has violated the rules of the Dutch Advertising Code for Alcoholic Beverages according to the Advertising Code Committee. The Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP, raised the complaint after an oversized beer glass was presented to the winner of the Amstel Gold cycle race on the podium last spring.
Huge beer glass
The Advertising Code states that an alcohol producer may not use a glass more than twice the size of a standard 250ml beer glass. The Advertising Code is intended to prevent the portrayal of excessive and irresponsible consumption.
The glass presented to the winner of the 56th Amstel Gold Race, Michał Kwiatkowski, was clearly larger than two standard glasses. The Polish cyclist needed both hands to hold the huge glass which he passed onto the second and third placed riders to drink from. The women’s winner, Maria Cavalli, was handed the glass but declined to drink from it.
In response to STAP’s complaint and the ruling by the Advertising Code Committee, Heineken has announced that it will change its practice in the future.
Concern for extensive alcohol advertising
STAP filed the complaint because of concerns about Dutch brewers increasing their sponsorship of sport. Brewers now sponsor sports clubs, such as PSV, Hockey Club Den Bosch and TeamNL from NOC*NSF, and sports competitions such as Formula 1, the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League and the national Dutch Football Cup (KNVB). There are several sports events named after beer brands, such as the Amstel Gold Race, the Heineken Rowing Camp and Bavaria City Racing. Heineken has recently extended its sponsorship into women’s sport such as the UEFA Women’s Champions League, UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 and 2025 and the international motorsport championship for the world’s best female drivers*.
Sports sponsorship leads to more drinking problems
Sponsorship of sport enables companies to achieve high brand awareness, particularly among young people. Research has shown** that brand awareness leads to increased consumption which in turn leads to increased risk and harm in the short and long term. The use of sport to reach key target audiences and the inappropriate association of alcohol with fitness is why STAP advocates a complete ban on alcohol advertising at sports events and on sports sponsorship by alcohol producers.