Cheeky Stella Artois ad campaign

This new adver­tis­ing cam­paign for Stel­la Artois is designed to empha­sise the qual­i­ty of the prod­uct. It implies that Stel­la con­tains only the four tra­di­tion­al ingre­di­ents of beer:

Stella Artois advertisement -- "Contains only four ingredients: hops, malted barley, maize and water"

That’s right – hops, malt­ed bar­ley, maize and water.

Maize!? Rather than try­ing to hide the fact they they use corn as an adjunct to make the beer cheap­er, they’re boast­ing about it, count­ing on the fact that most peo­ple won’t know any bet­ter. Hard­ly hon­est, but bloody clever.

And they’ve avoid­ed men­tion­ing all that yucky yeast, too, in case the thought of it puts any­one off.

27 thoughts on “Cheeky Stella Artois ad campaign”

  1. Last week I heard some­one in the JT asked his mate what the dif­fer­ence between cider and beer is. “There’s no yeast in cider” was the answer he got. I bit my lip (lest I be a real ale twat) but the man­ag­er did­n’t (she is too female and attrac­tive to be a real ale twat).

  2. I was won­der­ing where the yeast had gone. This is actu­al­ly untrue isn’t it?

  3. You should write a let­ter to Adver­tis­ing Stan­dards. No yeast. That’s the most bla­tant case of false adver­tis­ing since The Nev­er-End­ing Sto­ry

  4. I guess they’d argue that all the yeast has been fil­tered out, and that there­fore the claim is accu­rate. Or some­thing.

  5. Yeast tra­di­tion­al­ly does­n’t count as an ingre­di­ent because for cen­turies no-one knew what it was or how it worked. The Rein­heits­ge­bot, for instance, does­n’t men­tion yeast.

    These days, I think once you’ve fil­tered all the stuff out you don’t need to list it as an ingre­di­ent. You rarely see fin­ings list­ed in beer ingre­di­ents, for exam­ple.

  6. That can’t be right, Beer Nut. You should either list the ingre­di­ents you use to make the beer or list the results.

    On the oth­er hand, there is no Euro­pean stan­dard for beer label­ing. If you buy a car­ton of milk or a steak, the pack­ag­ing will give you a num­ber refer­ring to the place where th food was processed. I’d like that on beer bot­tled, too. (Obvi­ous­ly, a grown man should have bet­ter things to do than fig­ur­ing out the ori­gins of cans labelled cerveza found in Greek dis­count super­mar­kets..)

  7. Think­ing about it, it’s very care­ful­ly word­ed – “con­tains” rather than “made with”. So, stuff that’s been fil­tered out does­n’t count. Their lawyers will have been all over this. I guess their main aim is to counter a com­mon per­cep­tion (cer­tain­ly com­mon amongst my chums) that Stel­la con­tains “chem­i­cals” which give you a par­tic­u­lar­ly ter­ri­ble hang­over.

  8. Here we go, from the FSAI:
    “An ‘ingre­di­ent’ is defined as any sub­stance, includ­ing addi­tives, used in the man­u­fac­ture or prepa­ra­tion of a food­stuff and still present in the fin­ished prod­uct even if in an altered form.” (My empha­sis.)

    If you’ve fil­tered all your yeast out, it’s not an ingre­di­ent. So even though you’re not oblig­ed to list ingre­di­ents for beer, the use of the word “con­tains” in an adver­tise­ment is most like­ly cov­ered by a sim­i­lar clause.

  9. It con­tains one par­tic­u­lar hang­over-induc­ing chem­i­cal that isn’t list­ed.

    Knut, yes I’m very aware that there’s a lack of stan­dards in labelling around Europe, and that the drinks indus­try in par­tic­u­lar gets away with a lot of sharp prac­tice in terms of ingre­di­ents and prod­uct ori­gins.

    I still think I’m right about the yeast, though, in the UK and Ire­land any­way. I’ll go look it up.

  10. But sure­ly the five per cent by vol­ume of C2H5OH in Wife-Beat­er is an “ingre­di­ent”, which the OED defines as “Some­thing that enters into the for­ma­tion of a com­pound or mix­ture; a com­po­nent part, con­stituent, ele­ment.” Alco­hol cer­tain­ly “enters into the for­ma­tion” of beer, and it’s a com­po­nent part or con­stituent, since with­out it, it ain’t beer.

    Though I sup­pose a strict­ly legal­is­tic inter­pre­ta­tion of an ingre­di­ent as per the FSAI’s def­i­n­i­tion, some­thing “used in the man­u­fac­ture or prepa­ra­tion of a food­stuff” would rule alco­hol out as it’s not itself “used” but some­thing that is the result of the use of oth­er ingre­di­ents …

    Where’s Stonch when you need him …

  11. By that ratio­nale, would­n’t you also need to list all the oth­er zymo­log­i­cal by-prod­ucts?

    Ingre­di­ents: Water, Ethanol, Isoamyl Acetate, Diacetyl, A Weird Sort Of Cab­bage Flavour We’re Hop­ing You Won’t Notice, Hops”.

  12. I was going to say some­thing about the ingre­di­ents includ­ing extracts, etc. Then I realised that we were talk­ing about Stel­la and decid­ed that I could­n’t be both­ered to think about it any more.

    Oops, I’ve writ­ten some­thing, haven’t I?

  13. Sug­ar? The alco­hol is the by-prod­uct of the yeast eat­ing and con­vert­ing sug­ar to alco­hol and yeast farts.

  14. As some­one whose pro­fes­sion­al intro­duc­tion to beer (beyiond enjoy­ing a drink) was work­ing on Stel­la adver­tis­ing, I can only han­bg my head in reflect­ed shame. It cer­taoin­ly nev­er had maize in back then, unless the brew­er was lying to their own ad agency. This may be pos­si­ble, but I think it’s more lik­ley that the prod­uct was adul­ter­at­ed by the new regime when Inbev took over.

    Yeast – tricky one. Beer Nut is right about the Rein­heits­ge­bot etc, and yeast isn’t list­ed on the labels of many brands. What con­fus­es me here is that Inbev also do Becks. Their recent cam­paign was sim­i­lar and includ­ed yeast – why include it for one of your beers and not anoth­er? (Although that cam­paign had it’s own prob­lems “Only ever four steps” – um, no, I think you’ll find those are ingre­di­ents, not steps).

    I can con­firm that the rea­son­ing behind this is to coun­ter­act that wide­pread belief that Stel­la con­tains ‘chem­i­cals’ that get you more drunk. It does­n’t. Not unless they’re lying to their own ad agency again. My own take on the Maize thing is that the peo­ple involved know so lit­tle about beer, they did­n’t even realise they were cre­at­ing an ad that says this ‘qual­i­ty’ beer is cheap­er than its peers…

  15. I have not­ed this ad while rid­ing the tube and got stuck on the “maize” part– and thought, corn? Isn’t that some kind of filler? I guess the last cam­paign try­ing to make it seem exot­ic and Bel­gian was trad­ed in for this new qua­si-health con­scious approach? Fas­ci­nat­ing none the less.

  16. This advert seems a direc­to response to the oft-made com­ment that Stel­la is ‘full of chem­i­cals’.

    I do like a pint of the stuff so can any of you chaps con­firm if this advert dis­proves that once and for all?

    What­ev­er the yeast/no yeast thing is Stel­la full of chem­i­cals or not?



  17. I don’t know what’s in Stel­la – this advert does­n’t real­ly make things much clear­er – but I sus­pect that the idea it’s full of chem­i­cals might be inspired by the fact that some peo­ple have drunk it in pubs which don’t keep their pumps and lines clean.

    Although this arti­cle explains that beer pro­duc­ers aren’t oblig­ed to list all their ingre­di­ents. If they list any, it’s a cour­tesy, so they can just tell us about the ones they’re proud of!

  18. I men­tioned this to the ASA, and they’re not uphold­ing any com­plaints because InBev have told them there’s no yeast left in the fin­ing process (com­bi­na­tion of three meth­ods).

    Sounds like bol­locks to me though. And what do they add to the water?

  19. Guys i was just won­der­ing about the sug­ar con­tent in stel­la. how much is in it? I work in a pub and one of our reg­u­lars is dia­bet­ic and he said that its been affect­ing him. he checks his blood every time he comes in and when he goes home to find that his sug­ar lev­els have shot up. He onlt has four halfs of it and two vod­ka soda waters. Can you help at all?

  20. Dave – I would­n’t want to go around giv­ing out med­ical advice, but I think almost all beer has a decent amount of sug­ar in. Most of it will fer­ment, but not all. Boak’s uncle is dia­bet­ic and, although he loves beer, he does some­times have to make do with sug­ar-free dia­bet­ic beer (urgh…).

  21. I think that the yeast occurs nat­u­ral­ly in the air in cer­tain areas of bel­gium.
    They leave the fer­ment open so its affect­ed.
    Note the words “I think”.

  22. It’s a com­mon belief here in Asia that “Wife Beat­er” con­tains chem­i­cals, the most pop­u­lar­ly posit­ed one is formalde­hyde. For those who make beer, such an item is not a byprod­uct of man­u­fac­ture. Gen­er­al con­sen­sus and con­jec­ture posits that such chem­i­cals come from con­t­a­m­i­na­tion AFTER clean­ing the equip­ment between batch­es, and fail­ing to rinse stuff ade­quate­ly. Is formalde­hyde part of the clean­ing chem­i­cals used? Who knows?. As such, the amount of “stuff” in the ‘Evil Brew’ changes from batch to batch and with­in batch­es, thus, occa­sion­al­ly mak­ing its appear­ance felt.

    Stel­la used to be my drink of choice in Shang­hai until one par­tic­u­lar­ly dark night, and the beer just did­n’t taste quite right, Mr. Hyde emerged. This nor­mal­ly hap­py, harm­less drinker turned into a fero­cious, too ter­ri­ble to behold, mon­ster and one man wreck­ing crew. No one was hurt, but once was way too much. I’ve not touched the stuff since, and once when pre­sent­ed with it sniffed it three or four times before say­ing, “No. No thanks, I’d rather have some water.”

    Whether the new recipe con­tains maize (corn) as an adjunct, is pret­ty much a moot point.


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