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SOUTH AFRICA: Brandhouse claims victory in SABMiller dispute

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Diageo and Heineken's subsidiary in South Africa, Brandhouse, has claimed victory in a long-running advertising dispute with the country's leading brewer, SABMiller.

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Brandhouse said yesterday (18 January) that South Africa's Advertising Standards Authority has upheld its claims in adverts for 66cl bottles of Amstel lager. It launched a campaign last year claiming that retailers and bar owners would make more profit on Amstel than on regular 75cl bottles of beer; a claim rubbished by SABMiller, which sells Carling Black Label in the 75cl size.

The dispute, which raged for much of 2010, has fuelled growing tension between the brewers as Brandhouse seeks to gain a greater foothold in South Africa's premium beer market. SABMiller accounts for close to 90% of beer sales in the country.

The ASA originally ruled in favour of Brandhouse in June last year, but SABMiller's subsidiary in the country, South African Breweries, appealed the decision.

An SABMiller spokesperson told just-drinks that the company is "disappointed" with the latest ruling and hinted that it may seek to take further action. "Despite the ruling by the ASA, SAB remains convinced the Brandhouse campaign, directed at tavern owners, was misleading and incorrect," spokesperson said. "SAB is studying the ruling before deciding on the way forward."

Brandhouse's MD, Gerald Mahinda, said that the decision “reinforces the truth of the Amstel 66cl value proposition, which offers consumers a more affordable premium beer whilst at the same time offering retailers more attractive margins.

"The ASA found that each of the claims which SAB contested in respect of the virtues of Amstel 66cl were substantiated, accurate and not misleading," Mahinda added.

Yesterday, SABMiller reported a 3% rise in beer sales by volume in South Africa for its fiscal third quarter.


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