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Bad timing for Heineken: banners were left up after a company event at a Mongolian nightclub. Unfortunately, next on the schedule was dog fighting. Outrage quickly ensued on Heineken's Facebook page and elsewhere.

Heineken responded quickly with this statement:

“Heineken is aware of a shocking photo of what appears to be a dogfighting match in a foreign country with Heineken branding visible in the background. We'd like to thank the community for bringing this issue to our attention.

“We are as appalled by this image as you are and have asked the Heineken Global Office to immediately investigate the circumstances of this event and whether Heineken was involved in any way.

"If you have any further information regarding this picture, such as the source, or the venue where it was taken, please let us know in this thread.”

In a follow-up statement, Heineken denied association with the event and explained the situation:

"Images continue to circulate in social media channels showing a dog fight, with Heineken banners clearly visible in the background. This is very distressing and totally unacceptable. As a company and a brand owner, we do not and would never knowingly support any event, outlet or individual involved in this type of activity. It is against our company and brand rules and - more important - against our company values. . . ."

The statement goes on to explain that the banners were left from a previous event and that the company has "ceased" its relationship with the club.

The situation follows a July 2011 Heineken commercial that compares the beer to a snakeskin jacket: "It's not right for every occasion. Unless, of course, you find yourself attending a secret, offsite, charity snake-fighting event." Weird.

Discussion Starters:

  • How do you assess the social media response? Were people right to question Heineken's involvement, or did they overreact?
  • How do you assess Heineken's response to the criticism?
  • What do you make of the snake commercial? Is it just me, or is it weird even if the dog-fighting controversy didn't happen?