Heineken faces boycott threat over pro-vaccination ad

·3 min read
Jun 19, 2021; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of vendor carrying a Heineken container in the stands in the game between the Colorado Rapids and FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Heineken's new ad appears to promote COVID-19 jabs. Photo: Reuters

Dutch beer maker Heineken (HEIA.AS) is facing threats of a boycott after posting a pro-vaccination advert on Twitter.

#BoycottHeineken was trending on Twitter in the UK on Friday after the brewer posted an ad showing older generations partying in a club with the caption: "Cheers to the vaccinated. Time to join them".

The ad "celebrates a group of vaccinated seniors who are able to safely get back out to enjoy bars and clubs and socialise again – something we’re all looking forward to," a Heineken spokesperson told Yahoo Finance UK.

"It is all about supporting the hospitality industry and getting back to the bars and restaurants safely so we can all be together again," they added.

More than 45.6 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus jab as part of a programme that prioritised those aged 50 and above.

But Heineken's post has upset anti-vaxxers, the term used to describe someone who is opposed to vaccinations.

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These people believe vaccines are unsafe and even infringe on their human rights. They often deny the validity of the science that supports their use, despite the World Health Organization categorically stating that vaccines prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 and wants everyone to be jabbed.

A verified Twitter user, Patrick Henningsen, whose bio says he is an independent global affairs analyst, tweeted: "Deranged advert. Sick company".  

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Another user said, "So sad, bye bye Heineken won't be drinking it ever again." A third called it "disgusting and disturbing vaccine propaganda."

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Read more: Holiday bookings surge after UK amber list changes

Some users posted videos of people pouring the beer down kitchen sinks in protest.

The extent of opposition to the advert wasn't immediately clear. The hashtag was also being used by people supporting the company and its message. 

One user called it "wonderfully uplifting" while another said: "Great advert, great message. I’m specifically going to drink more Heineken from now on. #BoycottHeineken #RespectToHeineken."

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Heineken's stock was little changed, ticking down 0.3% on Friday afternoon.

"Heineken has been in the eye of the social media storm before, after France player Paul Pogba removed a bottle of the beer from a post-match conference," said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.

"After a slight dip in the share price, it emerged pretty much unscathed. This furore over the vaccine ad is also likely to be limited for the company."

She said that there is plenty of support for jabs in the UK, especially among younger people. She also expects the ad to lead to "significant word of mouth exposure of the brand, which could end up benefiting the company as more people debate the merits of the campaign and its overall usefulness in helping with vaccine take-up rates.’’

Watch: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

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