Jupiler, one of the beer brands of brewer AB InBev, has agreed to withdraw advertisements for a 2+1 promotion of crates of beer, after complaints from anti-alcohol campaigners.
But although the ads will no longer appear, the promotion – buy two crates of beer and receive one free – goes ahead.
The ads recommended the beer “to get the barbecue going”, which critics said encourages the wrong sort of behaviour, because the rules do not yet allow visits by friends.
“We are withdrawing the advertisement,” company spokesperson Karolien Cloots told Het Nieuwsblad. “This is a campaign that also ran in 2019. It was certainly not our intention to undermine the corona measures and to get people to barbecue. Everyone must respect the measures,” she said.
Meanwhile the Flemish expertise centre for alcohol and other drugs (VAD) has called for a temporary ban on the promotion of alcoholic drinks by special offers, based on evidence over the last six weeks of lockdown that some people are experiencing an increased consumption of alcohol.
According to calls received by the VAD’s drug-line, people are feeling more isolated and turn to drink and drugs. As far as alcohol is concerned, the closure of all bars has led people to turn to drinking at home, where there is less social control, while shop-bought alcohol is cheaper.
“Soon after the closure was introduced, we saw the number of calls to the drug-line increase,” said Katleen Peleman, director of VAD. “There was also a different type of call. These were from people who started drinking earlier in the day, or who drank more than usual. We see that there is definitely a group that is losing control.”
“With people putting so much effort into the fight against the coronavirus, it’s irresponsible to tempt them to buy extra alcohol,” VAD said in a news release. “We know from research that a responsible price and advertising policy can strongly influence purchasing and drinking behaviour. In these corona times, such measures make more sense than ever.”