Other stars different to Heinekenʼs, says Fidesz MP

Drinks

The stars Converse shoes and San Pellegrino mineral water use for branding are okay, however the one that Heineken beer uses is not, governing Fidesz MP Lajos Kósa appears to suggest in a report carried by state news agency MTI, commenting on the government’s planned ban of "totalitarian symbols" (such as the red star) used for commercial purposes.

Stars in the three brand logos. (Photo edited by Attila Ignath. Sources: Converse and Heineken from Pixabay, San Pellegrino from Wikimedia Commons.)

“There are some products that sport the red star not as a totalitarian symbol,” MTI quoted Kósa as saying, noting that the politician mentioned a mineral water and sneakers brand as examples. Although MTI does not name the brands allegedly referred to by the politician, Hungarian online news portal index.hu suggests they may be San Pellegrino and Converse, although the star that Converse uses is blue.

Commenting on Dutch brewing company Heineken, Kósa said that “this was the very company that removed the red star from its products in 1951, as it was possible to relate to it as a totalitarian symbol.” According to the brewer’s Heineken Collection Foundation website, established to promote and protect the brand’s cultural history and values, the five-pointed star goes back to at least 1883, and was first colored red in the 1930s. (Index.hu notes that Heineken whitened the star, rather than removing it, during the Cold War years.)

While insisting that reports suggesting that governing alliance Fidesz-KDNP would drop plans for a ban on Heinekenʼs use of a star in its logo were a “bluff,” the Fidesz MP said that the possibility needs to be established that the matter could be discussed in international forums as well. He also said that discussions on the planned ban have been ongoing and no decisions have yet been made, according to MTI.

The Hungarian government was reported yesterday to be backing out of a draft bill that would ban the use of what it calls “totalitarian symbols” for commercial purposes, thought to have been aimed at Heineken. Bill drafters Zsolt Semjén and János Lázár have denied such reports.

In recent months a diplomatic row has been unfolding between Heineken and Lázár over the naming of a beer produced by a small ethnic Hungarian-owned brewery in the Transylvania region of Romania. A Romanian court banned the use of the name Csíki Sör for the local beer when Heineken brought the matter to court after it bought a competitor with a similar name, Ciuc beer.  Csíki Sör was renamed Tiltott Igazi Sör (which translates as Banned Genuine Beer), though it still sports the original name in runic writing. Ever since, many Hungarian politicians, including Lázár and far-right Jobbik MPs, have called for a boycott of Heineken products in Hungary, a call the local Dutch Embassy has described as worrying.

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