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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 replies on “Cheeky Stella Artois ad campaign”

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).

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

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

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

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.

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..)

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.

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.

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.

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 …

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”.

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?

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

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…

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.

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?



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!

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?

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?

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…).

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”.

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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