SAB appeal against advert ruling rejected

The Advertising Standards Authority’s appeal tribunal has rejected an SA Breweries (SAB) challenge to an earlier ruling on advertising for competitor brand Amstel.

The advert that SAB objected to was a flyer, aimed at tavern owners, for a new Amstel 660ml returnable quart.

Among other things, Amstel manufacturers Brandhouse told taverners: “You’ll make more because you pay less... trading up from mainstream beer brands was never before so attractive for your customers.”

In June last year, the ASA directorate rejected SAB’s complaint that the “pay less” claim was dishonest.

SAB said in its complaint that Brandhouse was dishonestly trying to create the impression that the 660ml quart was being sold at a lower price than a Amstel 750ml line, which was discontinued to make way for the smaller bottle.

In fact, SAB said, consumers were at the time of the advert going to be paying more per millilitre of Amstel than they had ever paid before.

However, in a ruling handed down this week the tribunal said it did not agree the price per millilitre was an appropriate measure of comparison.

It said the Brandhouse claim was that consumers and tavern owners would pay less for the new quart as a unit.

“On any version of the facts the new 660ml Amstel quart does cost less than the 750ml Amstel quart cost immediately prior to the introduction onto the market of the 660ml quart.”

It said SAB claimed Brandhouse had deliberately raised the price of the 750ml bottle twice in the run-up to the introduction of the new line.

“Even assuming in (SAB’s) favour that the price increases were unusual, Brandhouse’s motives for increasing the price does not in our view have a bearing on the truth or otherwise of the claims in issue,” the tribunal said.

In a statement, Brandhouse described the ruling as a “triumph for beer fans and tavern owners”.


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